not your touch (negative space)

not your touch but your absence
not your kiss but after
my cheek cooling

like the sun eclipsed re-emerging 
the land gradually dawning
birds waking again.

not your breath but your perfume 
just a trace — familiar, austere —
declines in the room
like a cloud moving away
the glare returning 
colours bleached and bare.

not your words but the place 
on the page erased
where a shadow remains
like a building emptied
or a statue burning
a space yet to be filled.

shirts, the torment of our sheets
your keys from the bowl 
all these things, these you-things
like a door closing or a film
framed by a door of an empty house 
the sound running down as we pull away.

the likenesses pile up
times when I mistake one thing for another
shadows for anime, windswept for blown back
the press of the tide for knowledge (of some sort)
hands waving hello for hands waving goodbye —
not your touch but your absence.    

Image: Flannel Flowers (Actinotus helianthi ) c. 1900-1910 – from State Library of NSW Flickr .

And for your listening pleasure here’s Thomas Tallis’ (from mid to late 1500s) Mass for Four Voices – sung by Chapelle du Roi – as one youtuber put it “Sublime magnifique merci.”

26 thoughts on “not your touch (negative space)

  1. Wow, such remarkable poetry! I especially loved these few lines:

    “not your words but the place
    on the page erased
    where a shadow remains…”

    It’s so haunting in what it communicates. That lingering essence of what is remembered as left behind. Brilliantly penned and indeed so superb.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautifully written Peter, the photographic and filmic negative spaces interwoven with the energetic and emotional ones read so well on their own and with the Mass of Four Voices.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your poem resonates with me, Peter, and made me tearful. A beautiful poem of loss. This stunning stanza reminds me of my mother and grandmother, whose perfume I still smell and I know they are still with me:
    ‘not your breath but your perfume
    just a trace — familiar, austere —
    declines in the room
    like a cloud moving away
    the glare returning
    colours bleached and bare.’

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I always love to read a poem using negations, the connection to negative space in photography is excellent, whenever you describe something abstract (love, loss, faith… ) it’s so much easier to describe it by negations…

    I remember we had a prompt on this a while back


  5. You capture so truthfully the feeling when someone is no longer there. New reality defined by what’s missing – a kiss’ profoundness, a perfume’s evanescence, a key’s banality. The complex sum of another life no longer entwined with ours.
    Awestruck. Guru status, Peter.

    Liked by 1 person

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