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Published in Plumwood Mountain, Vol. 3, No. 1, 2015 

https://plumwoodmountain.com/vessel-iii/

Also in Flett's chapbook, Vessel, published by Garron Publishing, 2016

Vessel

I

No-one else has seen inside this bairn.

 

She’s just wee. The sky     does not yet curve down

around her. It is still     contained

in a blue strip     at the top of the page.

 

She’s setting her place     for breakfast         

but has stopped     half-way between

the crockery cupboard     and the table.

 

The sun is just-risen     above the roof of her building

so that she can see the reflection     of her windows

in the windows     of the building opposite.

 

She doesn’t know     it’s a reflection.    

It seems a thing of itself     a thing that appears   

and disappears     with the light.     In her hands    

 

a cup is moulded     around its cup-worth of space.

In her head     something is rugging     at the reins 

of the kitchenette     clock.

 

She has asked her mother     a question.

When you get older     do you remember more?

And her mother has answered      Aye, I suppose you do.

 

The bairn kens     this is the wrong answer.

She kens her mother     means you have more things

to remember, there’s more living     filling your head

but what the bairn means     is will she remember

being born     will she remember    

where she was     before she was     born?

 

She doesn’t ken how     to ask the question.

Instead, she has stopped     to remember    

this    forever:

 

her hands cooried     around a space    

she is carrying to a table     a cup

inside which     reflected light pings.

 

She watches her hands move     apart.

She watches the cup drop     and break                

the pieces spanghewing     in different directions

 

making new     angles of light     forming

the beginning of kenning     how we go     beyond     what we are

an awareness     of being and not being

 

a first meme that will repost     versions of itself

in her brain     until she comes to see that

the cup isn’t     what matters.

 

II

It’s lunchtime.     They’re still in bed.

 

When the morning was     thinner    

they went foraging     running naked

to the kitchen     reenging    

 

through cupboards     for cereal    

eating it     straight from the packet.

They raided the fridge     and kissed

 

with mouths full     of strawberries, yoghurt   

the pink-white mess      of their tongues.    

Now she has woken into     the middle    

 

of the day.     The sun has tension     spinning

its heat     into a rope that warps through     the window

down onto her belly     an umbilical cord

 

drookit with roaring.     He’s asleep on his stomach

beside her     the dip and rise of his arse     the blonde hairs

pushing up through     his skin. In her belly    

 

the roar comes from way back     from out of the mud   

-sucking swamps     a roar or grunch that says hungry.

She wants to call it love     but it’s not that waffie

 

human thing.     It’s grander. Almost geological.

Not of her making     something from the dark ages    

lingering     in the background 

 

like cosmic microwaves.     It must have been there    

when Paleolithic hominins     were fucking    

in forests and caves     all matted hair 

and ugsome nails, their outlines     like faded

daguerrotypes imprinted     within her silhouette.    

It must have been there when     Chaucer’s medieval

 

couples were fucking     in pig-pens and haystacks    

the skirmish of petticoats     the clap of leather aprons,    

their peching breath still here     filling her lungs.

 

He wakes and rises     on the opposite side     of the bed   

uncurtaining the windows     he lives behind.    

She sees herself wee inside them     and he draws her    

 

further in until     their skin is sliding like rain    

the tectonic grind     of their pelvic collision    

hands     cupped around each other.    

 

Her head is so full     questions inside questions

things she doesn't know     how to ask. But she knows

there is nothing     bigger than this:

 

hunger and fulfilment     fucking

and sleeping and waking     the filling

and emptying     of the world.

III

They’re together     at the table.

The skin-and-bones of their meal     is in front

of them. Striations     of tomato sauce stripe

their plates, showing the pathways     of their chips.

 

His reading glasses sit     cross-legged    

on the scrubbed wood. In the lenses     the reflection    

of his face is much smaller     than his actual face

 

the same way that she holds     only the totiest

image of him in her mind     never kenning

who he is, who she is     where they stop and

 

where the outside begins.     She touches the back

of his hand where the star     at the centre

of their universe     has touched it    

 

runkling and freckling     leaving its mark.    

He knots his fingers     around hers.

Behind him     the kitchen door is open.    

 

An earlier rain has pixelated     the flyscreen    

making a pattern     like a calendar    

with some of the days     exed in.

 

From outside comes the racket     of crickets

sawing through     the evening’s minutes

splitting them into     their infinite parts.

 

She lets go his fingers     and watches

her hands move in     around her cup

which is full     of tea. She blows down on it

so that the surface     coruscates into miniature

waves that break     against the inside edges

and switter back     to the centre.

 

She thinks of the sound-waves of crickets    

moving     the hammer and anvil in her ear    

to send     their song to her brain.

   

Wind blows through the flyscreen     popping empty

some squares of water     changing the cross-stitch.

She feels the skirr     of outside    

 

pigeons’ feet prattling     on the tin roof    

blowflies ellipsing the porchlight

like planets.     Even the spaces     between

 

blades of grass in the lawn     are alive:    

beetles, grubs     stoor, stones

seeds, roots     all the wee things

doing their work.     Sky in her een

cup in her hands     she wonders

what is      hers?

 [AF1]Finally realised that your suggestion to cut these last lines makes this a better ending!