Edmund Spenser, Amoretti LXX
Should I bring flowers, or will this weather do?
Whatever: let’s give spring a big, warm welcome
as she unpacks her catwalk glamour, bares
her petalled flesh and turns September Song
into a smoky anthem… Why then do you choose
to stay here huddled in your doona, as if
after a heavy night? See how she offers
you a rose — or is it one more glass of red?
Because the season reaches body heat
too soon before it starts to burn, let’s dance
— however badly — while the sun stays calm
and middle-age keeps time with what’s still possible.
Shadows already smudge our breezy shapes,
so drain your glass: we haven’t got all day.
Edmund Spenser, Amoretti LXXV
I sign the sand with your curvaceous name;
a wave arrives and wipes my tag away.
Because it’s you, I write it once again,
but this time struggle with the shapely lines,
which are the shape of your sweet syllable.
But you’re not sold: Why must you advertise me when
the mindless tide erases everything?
This just can’t last — so what’s your point?
Don’t worry. For although this isn’t working
perfectly, right here, right now, I won’t consent
to sign off — not like this. I want to copyright
your name, to see it up in lights, to make
you mine forever: you’re my brand, my product.
I’m writing us our future. Give me your word.
A photo album shows us half a life
ago, bliss kittens of the night, bowtied,
in drag, in tight jeans and tee-shirts — half a life
before we kissed and breakfasted: an age.
These are the slim acquaintances we were,
these leaner, lesser bodies that we led
through thumping pubs and on to garbled parties,
and in and out of other people’s lives,
until they steadied in each other’s gaze.
Tonight we’re flirting with the past again,
and with each other, old and new. But which
is which? These recent, ageing beings or
those faded, younger frames, dressed in the past?
And should we even care? For as you turn
another page that shows the ways we’ve changed
I see no doubts, no hesitations, no
false steps in this long practised dance of ours,
only the Then and Now. The many stumbles
in between, when we were making do, making
it up, losing the plot, ignoring prompts
(unstaged scenarios as surely ours
as these more studied moves): those likenesses,
exposed to memory, lack this fixity,
or rest, unedited, beneath other beds.
Now as you pass the book and trade a glance
I try to catch a stranger in a kiss.
Only you’re there before me, knowing the look.
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Peter Kirkpatrick is a poet and academic, and teaches Australian Literature
in the Department of English at the University of Sydney. He has published
two collections, Wish You Were Here (Five Islands, 1996) and
Westering (Puncher & Wattmann, 2006), and the chapbook
Australian Gothic and Other Poems (Picaro, 2012).
‘Edmund Spenser, Amoretti LXX’ and ‘Edmund Spenser, Amoretti LXXV’ are from
an evolving sequence of Elizabethan Snatches.