he sweet-talks her in places
she doesn’t want to be where her fingertips
turn bloodless from the rhythmic
pushing motions with her hands away away
the tea he serves are wills and wonts she never hears him
breathe at night
beside him her dreams are tumbleweed and tell her I am only one
over and over
she chews time he hangs her love out to dry and oil paint takes
a minimum of thirty years to dry she can never remember
exactly this dream
she has read somewhere six new planets orbit a star five
in a liveable zone only
they are light years from earth and already what we love is time
they spent is slipping
why is for Wyoming and weather and cross-eyed it is weightless
and welcome
and also for wasp and for where
their love is finding a view she is sick of this small miracle
under the clouds
where he gets in her hair cajoles her outdoes her outwits her
she may be an orange peeling itself under a desert sun
when he can’t get over how beautiful yellow is!

by Astrid Alben

‘Why’ is copyright © Astrid Alben, 2011. It is reprinted by permission of Arc Publications from Ai! Ai! Pianissimo (Arc Publications, 2011).

Astrid Alben is an Anglo-Dutch poet who grew up in Kent and the Netherlands. She read English Literature and Philosophy at Edinburgh University. Since 2006 her poems and reviews have been published in magazines such as The WolfPoetry ReviewDrunken Boat, TLSStand and Shearsman. Alben has translated the poems of several Dutch contemporary poets, including the complete oeuvre of F. van Dixhoorn. Ai! Ai! Pianissimo is her first collection. She lives in Amsterdam and London. In 2004 Alben co-founded the Pars Foundation. Pars collects the findings – such as architectural sketches, articles, music scores, research data, journal excerpts – of renowned and emerging artists and scientists and binds these in a publications series. Findings on Ice (2007) and Findings on Elasticity (2011) were published as part of the Atlas of Creative Thinking. You can read more poems from Ai! Ai! Pianissimo here, and listen to Astrid Alben read her poems on her website.

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