The following poems, taken from Void Studies, were written in response to an idea the French symbolist poet, Arthur Rimbaud, had for a book that was never completed. ‘Études néantes’ was to consist of poems which would be written in the spirit of musical études and would go beyond the temptation to convey any direct message.
Back you go to the late hour’s work
of the sound of the night
against where you live your life
within a whereabouts unknown.
But now her dance like no other
includes you, knew you all along
for how you keep time, the elegance
of the way you move slowly at first
across the room, then gathering the dark,
then brave in the doorway of her arms.
As their eyes close into the brief moment
before two lips touch their irises
will lift out of view so that he’s not
kissing her but kissing the deep
red room where behind the streetlight
behind the shutters can be heard
the bird that sings through the night
a song about how love cannot
entirely belong to us not because
it wants to but because it must.
Stepping through the last of the sky
held by half-asleep mirrors
of the rain storm along the path
by the river where over
the other side the trees uphold
a language picking away
the fabric of reality, the woods
rising with everything to say
at once, with black wings,
with sound shuffling the air.
As though it had waited all year in the wings
of a sleep-eyed white angel to fall
and did so in an hour, assured of its own
answerless light cast across the garden,
while ice crystals melt from the bright lettering
upheld in the trees overnight,
everything is lost to the river’s deep lay
and to the low note sustained in its shadows,
the roads give and take nothing,
and you can’t get home, although you’re home.
Rachael Boast was born in 1975. Sidereal (Picador 2011) won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry Prize. Pilgrim’s Flower (Picador 2013) was shortlisted for the Griffin Prize. She was co-editor of The Echoing Gallery: Bristol Poets and Art in the City (Redcliffe Press). Void Studies will be published in November 2016.