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Lay for the Day
3rd March

The feast day of St Guignole, who founded the monastery of Landévennec in Brittany in the sixth century. Before he became abbot, he had been a hermit on a rocky island, a severe ascetic like many of the Celtic monks. But in the Middle Ages he became celebrated as a phallic saint, a spiritual aid in matters of virility – one of those hybrid figures in whom Christianity and ancient pagan religions combined. In the case of St Guignole, the association seems to have arisen through the proximity of his name to the Latin verb “gignere”, to beget or engender.

Making Love

Lying up together
with our limbs curled
like something sunlit in the sunless bed,
like water in a bay,
yellow leaves on bark,
or like the water where golden-grey
and green lichen diagram the sun,
clouds of green
and grey stone in their conjugations.

Each lichen expands, colouring a circle,
until cleft together.

Like an acorn in its cup,
a string in its yo-yo,
I cruise between your fine buttocks
after your bath, so your pink powdered lips
break gently a sweet sweat
smelling stale and lively like lichen.
You nudge the hollow of my groin,
the walls of my pelvis like a shadowed hand.

The broken sepals of an orange,
the last distilling of a smile,
the fullest, the little green star
in a creased expanse of glossy orange.

Like a rod on a piston,
we’re well oiled.
Like pink flowering
wetly involved with the latest attempts
of the twigs and the wet.
Pink brave blossoming
and good rain on the window,
the flowering well.

John Gibbens
from Makings ’77-’83

The Lay Reader: the whole poetic calendar

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