from traces

by Eleanor Hooker

It is forbidden to spit on cats in plague-time.
– Albert Camus, The Plague, translated by Stuart Gilbert

i.

mark

You have ruined
your eyes
reading by candlelight,
and singed your wings –
white feathers smudged
like Ash Wednesday,
in this, the year of the plague.

You have saved her voice
and when she speaks – doves,
and when she speaks – flight,
and when she speaks – passion,
the fall and the coronet.
You struggle to climb through
your own blind eyes, to track
her marks in the snow.

ii.

vestige

Nearing the edge
with neither hex nor hymn
to guard you,
he sprints past,
ghost boy,
there are night birds too,
and when the wind builds a lullaby,
his shadow stops
suddenly to take your hand,
oh gentle child,
to guide you through.

iii.

hoofprints

Evidence
below at damson paddock
confirms you once passed this way –
hoofmarks set in the indulgent earth
trail to the Point that sockets the sea,

where time saddled you,
rode you out and hitched you to the deep,
I see your tattered mane, silver spray
as you drag the sea
and drag it back
and drag it back
in endless repetition.