An Aftertaste of Aniseed

by Robert de Born


An aftertaste of aniseed
and witch hazels has haunted me
with mastika astringency
from April through to February;
it feeds on me, it needles me,
it bleeds in through my memory,
it steals through my identity
(and whispers of the end of me)

since I was sat one afternoon
with a coffee and Laforgue’s pierrots
and, by the windowsill, a rose
picked in February, displayed in June,
and the rice-paper figures of his rhymes grotesque
as the shapelier ligaments of the spine’s burlesque
in a tabletop jig on a lined writing desk
rewrote all my poems and changed my address
when I saw, opposite, by the corrugated door
of a closed Sri Lankan restaurant
a woman who was stood there for
twenty minutes – maybe more –
waiting for a lover or confidante

with the beauty of a reliquary
her eyes and lips remain in me
as bittersweet as aniseed
the mouth pinched by astringency
in clustered lilac memory

And I was waiting for the poem
which shakes me like a marionette
to write itself in an alphabet
as strange to me as the mysticality
of the poem of her arms
and the psalms of her regret

my poem was a forgery
her date was an absentee
and as we both left separately
an aftertaste of aniseed
and witch-hazel inhaled me
and held us in some memory

of April’s lives and February’s

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