Cosmic Marriage

On July 5th last year I posted a poem called The Deathbed Poet. I was excited about this – I thought that the Deathbed Poet was my alter ego and would write 20 or 30 poems straight away and there would be a book in it. That didn’t happen, but I recently wrote the first part of the following, all the time thinking “yes, but how does it end, and what’s the point of it?” And then it came to me that it is a Deathbed Poet poem. Here it is-

Cosmic Marriage

When we were nineteen we got married one night

In the living-room of the squat

All the other squatters were there as well as our friends

And as well as lots of people from the ends

Of the earth, where we were living then


We hung some black stuff over the windows

Lit candles in the corners of the room

Burned incense; joints were passed around

We two took off our clothes and sat on pillows.

The priest was a man called Fergus, who was old


And had a beard that was grey and pointed

And came down to his belt. He rubbed

A red dye into our foreheads and waved

The bowl of incense over us and asked

Us the important questions; we pledged


To love each other for as long as the earth turned

And for that night only


There must have been a laying-on of hands.


We never exactly set up home together

So it’s just as well that people didn’t come

With gifts of toasters, fish-knives and the like

A week later my new husband moved on

Somewhere in Devon I seem to remember


I can’t be sure if I told this to her

Or she, the dying woman, told it me

It’s confusing in these dim-lit sick bays

Of whispers and mumbles and dry mouths

Either he or she, the one who is actually doing the dying,

Or I, the one who is either telling the truth or lying-

Although it must sometimes happen that it is both-

Takes the deathbed and the gloom


For some other cot, some other half-dark, some other home