The scent of crushed geranium leaves
always made me feel old ghosts watched close by.
Such memories! Or one with many parts:
nostalgia in her armpits, bruised nipples, filthy
bare feet on the bleached rungs climbing
down from the tree, with swollen plums
like evening in the basket at her hip.

How much of it was really like that?
What later loves have reordered memory?
Pain strips cloud from those chilly suns,
lengthens the thigh, touches it
with a darker, sweeter-scented bronze.

This bad old life is flickering, fading, light
as the scent of leaves broken under her dissolute heel.
How many old men keep her walking there still,
singing in that summer when we loved her so? Paradise
shut in a universe of shrivelled, dying flesh.

What will become of her when we are dust
and only live in other’s minds?
Our memories will have shaped
what they saw of us and will recall.
So perhaps, unseen, she’ll still be there,
shaping what we’ll be then with a gentle touch,
as she touched the words of the song she sang
with the length of the silence in between.