You were a sky-gazer, a cloud-watcher,
seeing within those steamed puff-pillows
the forms of fabulous beings.
Just now I saw a fisherman, his white head
turned away, his finger flung
behind him pointing at infinity.
His rag-rolled head streamed to the west,
clothes rippling in the high sky-wind.
And when my lazy eye looked again
he morphed into a huge ornamental E,
whose top lintel was a crocodile’s mouth,
snapping at the blue. This too bleeds,
feeds into a sterling pound sign. You
must have spent afternoons on your back
gazing at patterns forming and merging,
dissipating where the mind dragged it.
You took your pigments and pulled them,
your art fixing a borderless sky inside
a broad high vault, peopling the heavens.
Ah, Michelangelo, I know why the sky
became your backdrop, why it is that you
loved shades from azurite to smalt to cobalt blue.
Standing at the edge of the pumped-up bed
she puts her fists into his back gently
but firmly, working the muscles.
She opposes them with deep down pushes,
waiting for the creak and scringe of ligament and bone,
feeling a way into his injury, his scarred layout.
Sounds of crackling and popping like bubble-wrap
drift with disembodied conversation.
‘When the pain eases, tell me,’ as thumbs
quest into knobbles, the central roots of a spine.
‘Yep,’ means a stronger digging in, a longer track
back to the feeling of no-pain, when the nerves
quiet to a hum lower than cars shushing by,
on the wet road outside the window. Sitting up,
he sees a chart plotting the nerves of the body,
a lattice shawled across shoulders; bright yellow
rivulets that trickle into streams threading down
the ruby, skinless torso. Even physiotherapists
like classical poses.