Return to Permafrost Issue 38.2

Love in Four Elements

by Rosa Walling-Wefelmeyer


Salamander Brandy ¹

I came in you a little red

at first confused

incendiary or an incendiary

you or I or us in glass

why not just a lizard’s leg

offering powerful trouble

from one to three

but autumn

your mother’s fruit now juice

has fathered sweat to broth

and puts all wondering to death-

agony to exhale through skin

to drown when breathing in

to taste myself to know myself

push

me

out

to let you in

– the tourist floats as light as bliss everything is beauty revelling bursting with
potential to be touched to be found crawling curved through orange thinning into
yellow almost white almost chaste to find then no shape no thing that can be
touched, curse, that can be fucked and oh, now this sense of coming back

to form

to a discriminate

longing for you

but winter

time and need swarm

to turn our juice to mead –

agony to breathe

to feel through pores

a stranger looks at colour at light

and then to fall

back back

but oxygenated

at last as azure

 

¹Salamander brandy is believed to be a product of Slovenia which is made by placing a live salamander into fermenting fruit juice. This causes it to produce toxins that in turn create an aphrodisiac and hallucinogenic mixture.

 

Angler Fish with Esca ²

I dropped in you a little blue

fed moon now crescent

in a falling grimace

tongue-less

one word of flattery

from your sun

there was a time when the studio was rejected

when brush and breath were held for light strokes on the surface

when colour vowed never to blend or shade

only bind light in vibrant composition

but en plein air is foreign now

I have colour here enough

(though it may want for reds and yellows)

to draw form to you

there was a time when painting’s watery squint

could make braille of mirror’s image

but I have looking-glasses here enough

(hanging over peering down)

to keep you green in me

but what aggressive mimicry is this that lures

luminescence from heat and never quite absorbs

I could live like that

you drop a stone far above

what of it here below

I can adapt to that

but if another

then another

yet another

organs fuse together

where are those colours now to flare in my defence

to keep me from this parasite

this paling green to grey

 

  ²The angler fish can be found at the very bottom of the ocean where females attract prey to themselves in the darkness with their esca (luminous flesh protruding above their mouths like fishing rods). Males are far smaller and have evolved to fuse physically with the female and remain with her and any other attached males until she dies.

 

Bird (unidentified) and Eggs

 

I cracked in you a little grey

(perhaps silvering at some later stage);

rock has fused, but there breathes a ridge,

a tentative tone of pink.

What of brandy, water:

did I not drink enough

for a clear reflection?

You gave me an answer

in the shaking loose of feathers;

with every one I fashioned a nest.

You gave me an answer

in the breaking of a diamond

into eight equal parts,

with every piece a concave glass.

 

Why not a pair of wings

or a set of rings?

A little sting

at first

as flesh gives way

to feather,

a little blush

at last

as skin gets bound

by history.

History,

in one fell swoop?

 

So I take an egg

from my pocket

and gently drop it,

(smash, crack, ooze)

then another,

yet another,

my gills gape and flutter,

like fabric stitched for holding hope –

 

but agony is to bare.

 

These two wounds

are offering up a beak,

breaking through skin

at first,

then water,

reaching air

at last.

 

From here, now

looking down, I see

mosaics forming from our shells,

a stippling of shade and light,

fixing us to the ground,

for this moment at least.

There is perhaps some comfort then

in history

(I’ve heard it said

mosaics patterned temples in Ubaid).

 

Now I float here,

half in, half upon

fluorite’s frozen movement,

and its ambiguity of colour,

with the taxonomic question,

swan or crow or something else?

 

But rosemary is drying,

it brings me to the present.

That grey,

(smelt only for remembrance)

may yet be violet again;

it may glow,

(perhaps with a new light)

for nothing catches fire

like feeling dried by thought –

 

how can this become pure?

Not chaste

(for that is a smudging of us all)

but formless,

wild.

 

Roe Deer in the Wood

I break from you a flaring red,

your white heart darting through

the summer wood,

to darkness,

thickness,

quiet.

 

See our rings, these figure eights,

infinity round tree trunks

and broken stumps;

how necessary,

yet fruitless

are all attempts

at permanence.

 

I come here every day,

through the deepening of our hides

to smoky quartz, obsidian.

In these twilight months of black bile

I never humour thought too long;

you see to that;

I hear a tender step,

your hoof upon a hazel wand

and turn –

in nature there’s no blemish but the mind.

 

I vow to follow Plato

only through the words of Francis;

purity seems so cold and dry

when love is digging under ice

for earth’s dark root

and, clasping it between my teeth,

I taste old phlegm and blood.

 

Your eyes are acorns,

your ears young leaves,

but your edges and colours

are melting into myth and paint,

where Geneviève of Brabant

once sealed the pleasure

for six long years until her lover

chased you to the cave

and returned her to a former honour.

 

But you are as active here

in shade and dapple

as in enlightenment.

With your neck arched

you pull up fiery buttercups

and beech shoots,

your nose wet with dew,

but your eyes dry and watchful.

 

Now you are going,

the ground snaps a little green

with your farewell.

I will not follow

but you may come again,

golden red and spotted white,

alert to love’s attention.