I think very often of our moments that night
in the fellows’ garden, how time sped quickly
through our hands like rain, half-against.
On the lawn, under the dark was so much
running across the bottom of a lake, the easiness
of water, and I in my silver skirt a would-be fish,
a telling flashlight, a gift that gives away. I left
with light bruises on my legs, and a scratch
all the way from the back of my arm to
the shoulderblade. A lived-in relic, the comfort
of a body that feels itself and loves the ache
that proves potential for risk. As ever I think
of Eve clambering over the sidegate out of Eden,
her delicate skirt of leaves.
A storm; three trees fell down last night and come
the morning, I found one had crashed straight through
my window. Pine needles and glass. And you
were in my dreams again, a man become
a sort of weather-warning. I awoke
to find the bedclothes stained with sap
and me all doused in crystal, body mapped
with tiny beacons. Outside there is smoke,
the autumn gusts that seem November rain
until you seek beyond the door and find
just cold. This is a metaphor of sorts:
the false alarms, the brief moments that talk
of light but only default to unkindness.
Tonight another tree falls down again.
after Anthony McCall’s Meeting You Halfway II
Standing in the light with you is
something. At first we were
too scared to interpose our bodies
between the source and image,
but after breathing in the room,
and twanging at the minor beams
with curious hands, we took
the light onto our shoulders, backs
and faces. Disturbing the dust
that hung stilly in the air made it
a tiny sea around our waists.
If you stare into the light directly
it is like a tunnel. The heat of the beam
is like a tongue, or real sunlight.
It is December in a darkened room.
Two days after your leaving
I imagine really meeting you
halfway, somewhere in the Atlantic.
We do not fear the sea-trenches,
but sit on the bed collecting
shells and other items, pointing out
their brightnesses. This is only
another sea I want to throw myself
into. At New Year, maybe,
the whole thing will just freeze over,
and we will be the first to find
each other on the ice.
Since our time in the installation,
where our bodies met the beam halfway,
everything becomes a sort of wave.
I translate whole days to light
and interruption: the sudden glow
of messages, the forms of winter strangers
crossing roads, changing the composition
of the street. Chiaroscuro, a word
like the flight of birds. And, finally,
our imagined bodies meeting, how we will
interrupt each other’s light. Living
is a constant meeting-you-halfway,
a gradual haring down the tunnel
towards another kind of light.
It is half-midnight. Father does not see
the light that shows his daughter
slipping out the door like an old song.
She goes for the man last seen in something
like a darkroom, or camera obscura.
A moving with the seasons, west. Leaving
at night recalls the place she loved him
most in, the gloom that best curates the finer
points of light. This photograph. Now
I’m on my way. I’ll see you in the light.
I’m meeting you halfway.
Imogen Cassels is from Sheffield, and is currently reading English at Cambridge. In 2015 she was a Young Poet on the Underground, and in 2016 was a winner of the Poetry Business New Poets Prize. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Blackbox Manifold, The London Magazine, Ambit and The North.
Image credit: shuets udono