when Shelley strips naked in the passenger seat
to show me the Celtic serpent tattoo
which twists all over the pale force of her body,
the forked tongue flicking the down of her belly.
You must put your faith in something she says.
Yet what has she done but swap one implausible God
for a full menagerie of impossible ones?
What I believe in are those millions of moments
just before the moments when things go wrong.
I tell her of the night I spent in MacDiarmid's bed
at Brownsbank, snow thick for eerie miles each way;
how I lay and imagined him, alight and magisterial,
swaying on the open-topped night bus north through London;
how coals stirred and settled through the hours of dark.
Shelley sighs, says nothing. For the rest of the journey,
there is only the slow pall of the engine,
the occasional cawing of goddesses, the lowing of gods.