No 66 - Autumn 2005
The unknown whispered a name
before she died.
I never knew her own,
only that counter name she whispered.
As the lamp post springs on golden
in the evening, without a hand,
so she died, fluttering a sound
in the plucking movement of her lips.
So I looked for her, didn’t I,
in the fishmonger,
among the pink sprats and the white plaice,
among the skates and the veined mullets.
Not a pale hand to see, wrinkled and veined.
Next, in the chain book-stores,
in Poetry, Geography, Gender Studies,
New Age, Religion, History,
not a hand to see, wrinkled and turning a page.
Down the Dress Lust Street, among skirts
this long, that short, on the knee, off the knee,
where daughters were carefully horsing about
in little business suits with velvet lapels
but not a pale hand among the gloves, no.
In the telly audio video store, all to go,
a sale, and computers dancing on my toes
like mad little men, green men
far from the wood, far from the meadow,
to go but not a hand
pale and veined, old as the same water
that quivers into a million passing waves.
retreading itself on the one deep spot
on the globe’s surface –
that’s her, the unknown, she’s the unknown.
Fate struck me.
I turned into a bollard,
I was trapped between wolves,
hyenas, furious cocks and frenzied hogs
fouling my face, hands, legs,
through snouts flopping way out
between their back legs.
Trumpeting characteristic snarls,
they ran forward on both my ribs.
In that circus she could have survived
only as an accident, the ghost
of some butchered instant,
the mash of our present time.
Still my bones,
though now the bones of a traffic bollard,
clattered: She’s strong.
Then though I was sophisticated,
made of metal,
I still craved to embrace the ghost of translucence,
the dead woman beyond the one wave gleaming
and the one path that leads
through the wood to the one wave, gleaming.
See there the pink sprats and the plaice,
the veined mullet and the roan skate
and beyond this slab a storefront
of seals harbouring their breasts
on the meadows of rocks.
She hangs in the air
like a wisp of hay on a park railing.
She spoke to me confidentially
one night, and to my grief,
(annoyed by her false tone),
I couldn’t respond; yet
how was it false,
it was hers and I couldn’t respond.
I couldn’t respond or relate.
May I stand here with my tongue cut out
forever, embraced by hogs and wolves,
‘Come, darling,’ she said.
It was the sound
she fluttered on her dying lips,
husband or wife, daughter or son,
word for a lover, kin, mate,
beloved and sweetly loved child
wistfully cried for. ‘Come, darling!’
Darling, from your one country,
wave to me from your wave
that one second the golden moon clicks on
in the street evening without a hand,
pale, wrinkled, veined, passing.
Waving, she utters me.
- 10th Muse
- Angel Exhaust
- Blithe Spirit
- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
- Strange Faeces
- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
- Tolling Elves
- Ugly Tree, The
- Wolf, The
- Yellow Crane, The