‘Prodigals’: Four sonnets by Martin Malone


Friday Night: 9:30

The cancelled train of last week’s lost high
now behind us, we ease deep into chairs,
each snugging the glove of shared hunger.
Our deferred pleasure in escape declares
itself open for business with a glass
of good wine and a glance that reads
my returning gaze. We let minutes pass
in this way, just us looking, here in Leeds
in a hotel with its booked double room.

Then have to laugh and for no real reason, how
people do who’ve been long-parted. How it is
sometimes, when you finally make it home.
So let us bring home the gift of days. Now
teach me exile, show me lost hearths.
Saturday Morning: 7AM

Sunlight solders the morning into place
mote-by-mote; lasered almost to portrait:

you as Still Life, you as Reclining Nude.
Yes, let us play this game and go there:

trace the stages and versions that led us
to now and this man watching you sleep.

Armed only with guesswork, he stands
in the early light, drawing together

some sense of a life before you met;
sketching outline and general form,

exercising the privilege of transposition:
one year moved to the next, connectedness

given to isolated stones, lone trees granted
hillsides. Inkling shades of the unknown.
Sunday Morning: 10AM

Saturday night wakes up on the bathroom scales;
weighs out its carnage in mermaids’ tails,
bra, lube, seraphim, the keys to a stolen car.
Blinking, we survey this Sunday church bazaar;
wondering what to do with it all now,
knowing we will buy the lot anyhow.
We pay over the odds for something gone so fast,
hand over hard cash to save this from the past,
making up for our sense of lost time:
our darndest struggle to make all this rhyme.

Outside our hotel room what passes for a spire
lifts from a neighbouring church, the day tires
before 10AM and we go back to bed secure
in what we know will last, what we hope endures.
Monday Morning: 8:30 AM

And all there was between them then was rain.
And all there is between us now, this train
and my copy of The Mersey Beat, lying spent
across the guilty pleasure of your novel.
Our legs touch beneath the table, still caught
in the mad-mangled crocodile of the past
forty-eight hours. We chaperone the space
above, make Monday love in the negative.

Next stop is yours and we’re cutting it fine
for that connection. You know what, let’s not.
Let’s not make it; neither yours nor mine. Just
turn around and do it all again and keep on
doing it until we change weeks, months, years
into this weekend. We can do that, right?
Martin Malone is a UK based poet whose recent prizes include the 2011 Straid Poetry Award for new collections, the 2012 Mirehouse and the 2011 Wivenhoe Poetry Prizes. His collection The Waiting Hillside is published by Templar Poetry. Currently working on his second collection, Martin is undertaking practice-led research for a Ph.D in Poetry at Sheffield University. He is editor of The Interpreter’s House poetry journal.