After John Donne
Riddle me, like someone going to St Ives,
this: two’s a match and more’s plurality,
but who’s type A if nobody’s type B?
Lacking the right (done right by), who forgives?
Countries develop from their negatives,
and you can’t spell “ego” without e.g.
So come, make an example out of me—
show my half how it, through some other, lives . . .
Or how dearly’s my spending power bought,
if I, made buoyant by good atmospheres,
weak- and light-hearted as an astronaut
who’s walked in zero gravity for years,
can barely bear the weight of being real;
unsouled, I have no purchase—unhurt, can’t heal?
CAMILLE RALPHS’s first book, After You Were, I Am, will be published by Faber in 2024. Her pamphlets are Malkin (2015), uplifts & chains (2020) and Daydream College for Bards (2023). She is poetry editor at the TLS.