All this is happening for a reason,
or it is not. Take this apple,
as we once did, exact from
its lip dark bell a white,
a staring gape, a void,
a love staved in, its long pangs at last passing.

As well to reproach the light
spearing aslant King’s College
that May Week, vaulting the Backs
to a body in exultant flexion,
cleaving the clean flow, spilling
upon your new grace, disclosing all the world withheld.

You laughed, you know, when,
bicycling to the Hut or a picnic,
I dismounted a moment before
the chain, in slipped sequence,
came unfast, wanting a part
I did not have, that could not be had in war time.

So it is with codes, which instruct
their very unravelling; before
a mark is scratched, the other
must possess you, comprehend you
again from alpha and beta, teach you
to turn as he might, to feel his twist of purpose.

Yes, it is happening for a reason,
or it is not, a man is sitting
unseen in that room, or merely
an idiot tissue of ordained things
set in train when our plain text
was written, when we were first made to be broken.


‘Cryptography’ appeared as a guest poem on the Web site of George Szirtes in September, 2013.

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