Cliff Forshaw
May 5, 2015
Cliff Forshaw

variations on Baudelaire’s “Correspondences”


So, Nature is a living temple whose columns
writhe to let a muddled phrase break free.
In this weird wood we are watched from every tree.
Whorls on the boughs mouth out to us. The solemn

silence writes scripts to bark. And in the distance,
wavelength indigoes, as vast as night,
run clear as ice-melt, pour out their solace in light.
Wherever you look, it’s all utterance.

A fragrance resonates with spring; think fresh
showers, wild flower meadows. Others unstopper dusk:
rich and dark, they linger, heavy as flesh

which knows velvet and amber, benjamin and musk.
You go beyond the quiddity of things;
taste the jazzy keys of colour as perfumes sing.




Sometimes the world seems a living temple.
You move through side chapels, beady-eyed
by wise and symbolic birds, their calls
echo in arches, high stained windows; a shaft
of light haloes the earth around your feet.
You fall through the taste of nut and worm,
mulch, leaf-rot, incoming weather,
what’s borne on air, picking up the spectrum
of insect broadcast. Everything sharpens:
constellations of pollen motes; you zoom
to the focus of one tiny brain-buzz in the billions,
magnetic hair or sat-nav shell conductivity.
Banded by ions, tuned to the radio of sun and dark,
the world turns on the pin-point of a gnat.



Cliff Forshaw’s collections include Trans and, most recently, Vandemonian, which pieces together a fragmentary history of Tasmania.