Carol Ann Duffy

This Shape

derived from a poem by Jean Genet

This shape is a rose, protect it, it’s pure.
Preserve it. Already the evening unfolds you
before me. Naked, entwined, standing
in a sheet against a wall. This shape.

My lips tremble on its delicate brim
and dare to gather the drops which fall.
Your milk swells my throat to the neck of a dove.
O stay. Rose with pearl petals, remain.

Thorny sea-fruits tear my skin. Your image
at night’s end. Fingertips of smoke break surface.
My tongue thrusts, drinks at the rose’s edge.
My heart uncertain. Golden hair, ghostly nape.

Destroy this anchor to impossible living, vomiting
on a sea of bile. Harnessed to your body
I move through a vast world without goodness
where you come to me only in sleep.

I roll on the ocean with you vaguely above,
working the axles, twisting through your storms.
Faraway and angry. Wanting the sky
to thread the horizon with a cloth of my stitching.

How can I sleep with this flesh that uncurls the sea?
Beautiful story of love. A village child
adores the sentry wandering on the beach.
My amber hand draws in a boy of iron.

Sleeper, your body. This shape, extraordinary.
Creamy almond, star, o curled up child.
A tingling stir of blood in the blue departure
of evening. A naked foot sounding on the grass.