There are no gates between our minds,
your thoughts and mine are one;
the light upon each continent
shines from a single sun
Between our bodies the same space
that fills our false outlines
exists in daylight, and by night
each boundary unwinds
into a whirlpool where each being
is a syllable
leading towards and away
from the centre of the smile
that brought us life and death and time.
Beyond you there is me,
beyond me, only you. And you’re the wine
I drink to wash away my memory.
From the Balcony
Brighter than sun reflected on the river
swallowing you like parting lips of fire
what is it that will not speak or die?
Is it another layer of the lie
we wrap ourselves in against the growing day,
stranger to you and stranger too to me?
Is it a stormcloud passing through the sky,
the end of a breath, a wave upon the sea
rising and falling with the turning moon?
Is it the sigh in laughter and in wine
that leaves behind a chasm of tangled threads
and fuses sleep and waking in our heads?
Over your head, I see the black ladybird
crawling across your window to the curtain,
a full stop printed on a sky of shifting cloud.
I curl up in your armchair, looking down
from the walls of silken hangings showing
kingfishers in the rushes of a river
whose banks are crumbling. Beside the mirror
a box of candles with whose lighting
the play will begin to end;
our limbs like live wires interweaving
until we are a river for the vibrating
from which we surfaced into this island;
your breath and mine two petals rotting
back into the soil that gave us being.
The Lamp at the Door
I am your death; I’ll bring you to the edge
where you are neither yourself nor another,
where those who were your sister and your brother
are clouds in sky that come and go with wind;
where you will find that through you from the father
streams ecstasy, and in that current all beings
are born and die on laughter’s tiny wings. After you
there’ll be another with another name,
your life and hers like drops of falling wine.
Tom Yates studied English and Creative Writing at Warwick University and now lives and works in London. In 2008 he was one of three poets chosen for the Jerwood/Arvon Mentoring Scheme for Gifted and Talented Writers. He won the Poetry Society's Young Poet of the Year Award in 1998 and 1999 and has been published in magazines and anthologies including The Gift: New Writing for the NHS, Phoenix New Writing and The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Tenth Anniversary Anthology.