February 11, 2007

The river is up ahead. We see the willows
cry slivers of their flesh onto a warping mirror
to float downstream like the boats of insects.
You say there is no Devil, and I say yes,
you are right in every way
except in practice.

You told me yesterday
a sprouting Lucifer seed will split your brain
like a tree growing in a pavement crack.
You take steroids to slow the process;
they swell your legs like bruised fruits.

Belgrave hall is plain on the outside,
just a house by a park. This place
is not a museum these days,
it is alive like a theatre. On the tour,
they let us make Victorian jelly: it is thicker
than ours – you have to cut it with a knife.
The guide is nervous; he says there was a sighting here.
You flinch, standing in a puddle of ghost.

There’s a picture of three old ladies,
twenty years before the great war but
they are in the battledress of the previous age,
black corsets like the carapaces of insects. Their hands
grip tight to the frames of wicker chairs.

The guide shows us through the garden,
oblong, sprawling with fallen mulberry trees
who lie growing and won’t be told
it’s over. He tells us the park

used to be part of the grounds, but they divided the estate
between three sons. Once, when all the doors were open
you could see right through the house
to the flowerbeds past the road, but now
there is a wall in the way. He’s nervous,
but you know how to smile at him. I turn,
the garden melts into the photograph
of a space of lawn under two stone eagles.

This is where we sat, the three daughters
of the estate. We were black axels
spinning the emptiness around us.
The river took our empire
piece by piece on the leafboats of Lucifer trees.

But we fight the current.
There are ghosts swimming in my throat.


2 Responses to “swimming”

  1. wow. i like the way you take me through the/your landscape. thanks.

  2. You are welcome. Thanks for commenting, dreamlistener. This one usually doesn’t get much attention but it’s one of the ones I have a soft spot for. There are some people I care about in it, though it’s partly fictional.

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