16 transit of venus. (2)

protean shape unshaping, my desire,
that turns in me like starlings whorling dusk,
or like high cloud that burns belated fire
as in the dark damp blooms release their musk,
go figure; press on leaves that suppler print
of yours than breath, write in declining sheets
of long grass trailing lines, and urge, and hint,
and ring the round that being rung, repeats;
but coil in shadows, love, and never touch
that finest of her hairs, the lightest drop
welled at her eye, whose globe is made too much
a world, for your discovery to stop;
hold; linger at her lip, and at her ear
by turns, returned, that make to disappear.

by Andrew Zurcher

from coming home by andrew zurcher (Landfill, 2006)
Copyright © Andrew Zurcher

Andrew Zurcher is a Fellow in English at Queens’ College, Cambridge and the author of Spenser’s Legal Language: Law and Poetry in Early Modern England (D.S. Brewer, 2007). His poems have previously appeared in Bad Press Serials.

coming home is a sequence of 56 mostly Shakespearean sonnets. Here, in the second of three poems titled ‘transit of venus’ – a rare astronomical event, when the planet passes between the Sun and the Earth – the poet considers the difference between desire as a force of nature (the ‘turns’ of the vivid opening) and love as an understanding of transience (the ‘turns’ of the enigmatic ending). Venus, we are reminded, was also the Roman goddess of love, eternal provoker of transitory desire.

Landfill Press was founded in Norwich in 2004 as a publisher of contemporary poetic sequences.