Deveron. | First Love. | + Mouth to Mouth. by Sean Burke

Can I still claim I do not know
what brought me to the river’s edge,
the silver ingot streaked with blood
and mucus slipping in my hands;

what made me kneel and sink its mouth
in the rush of water, a tang soaked
in the bone, distilled earth,
bass notes of stone and darkness?

At the current’s touch, the resurrection,
the muscles’ whiplash banging in my chest,
how it was my own heart I flipped
back into the air to drown.

First Love.
When I was ten, I glazed my eyes
and the hearts on the wallpaper came unstuck;
I tried to gather handfuls for you, and you
tried to teach me the secret of flight,

then vanished to become, I heard,
a great beauty. So I struck out
alone, sufficient unto the day and night,
on the verge of all those other worlds

just out of reach. Oh Emma, I don’t need
three wishes - I just don’t want to die.
Or maybe I wish for good boots,
the kind that last a lifetime; a fishing rod

and hooks in my knapsack. But now I see
there was only one road from Macduff to Portsoy,
one solitary sea, and the heart takes flight
without looking or ever stopping to check

if its boots are forever, its knapsack adequately packed.

Mouth to Mouth.
When you get down to the last pea
tethered to the split pod, down
to the stalk of the fig,
its knot constant as the flesh
dissolves, gifting the tongue
new fricatives and liquids, syllables
whose onset and peak
is the salt-sweet ferment
welling in the cup: these are the words
my mouth works to speak.

Sean Burke is a poet, musician and teacher based in Milan. He was born in Banff, Scotland and has been living in Italy since 2003. His poems and collections have been commended and shortlisted in a number of international competitions and have been published in Orbis and Cake magazines.