Hearing him talk, you began to suspect
the audience would break their silence-pact
adopted twenty words ago and take
his music up. That ash-gone voice could stoke
primitive fires you didn’t know were lit:
red-embered, bright, like torches carried late
and deep into a wood. The sound of it
crumpled inside us. Though we were deaf to
everything but a tenth of its gas,
we couldn’t stop the itch from climbing us
verb over verb: an unmediated rite
tumbling out as though delivered by heart.
Recital was shortlisted for the Basil Bunting Poetry Award.