undressing

by Beatrice Garland

Like slipping stitches
or unmaking a bed
or rain from tiles,
they come tumbling off:
green dress, pale stockings,
loose silk – like mown grass
or blown roses,
subsiding in little heaps
and holding for a while
a faint perfume – soap,
warm skin – linking
these soft replicas of self.
 
And why stop there?
Why not like an animal,
a seed, a fruit, go on
to shed old layers of moult,
snakeskin, seed-husk, pelt
or hard green-walnut coat,
till all the roughnesses
of knocking age
are lost and something
soft, unshelled, unstained
emerges blinking
into open ground?
 
And perhaps in time
this slow undoing will arrive
at some imagined core,
some dense and green-white bud,
weightless, untouchable.
Yes. It will come,
that last let-fall of garment,
nerve, bright hair and bone –
the rest is earth,
casements of air,
close coverings of rain,
the casual sun.