Sport 42: 2014
The lark—we could see it—flew over
The heads of the mourners, zipping about.
Dew on its wings. Remarkable but also
Unpleasant—a bird loose inside a building.
When would it be freed? The undertaker—check if they’re
Still called that—missed the cue
And the CD played on, the lark
Flicked again into life, ascending grew stronger,
More crazed. Some people turned.
Who would stop that bird? Who would say,
We know it was her favourite but enough
Ascending. The lark wasn’t worried. It was alive.
Then finally it was fading out. When music fades out
Rather than ends, what do we feel? That, as if called,
Regretful, thankful, we have walked from one room into another,
With the idea we might at any time return to the first room
And find a window open.
Memoir, with Electrodes
He admitted, under torture—
And they were very good
At torture—that he’d once seen
His father’s penis. Attentive to his own
Testicles, they paused. Oh yes? And
What was he doing to you
At the time? I was in the bath. Go on,
What disgusting thing happened
Next? Okay, he said. Deep breath.
In real life, his father walked
Out, having had a piss. Humming
From an opera, quite an elaborate
Hum. Quite a handsome penis,
He thought, even then. Not shocking.
Comforting. That was all, a kid
In a bath, learns something.
But this wasn’t real life.
He was being tortured. His prostate
Was animate. What next?
His imagination failed and he
Told the boring truth. Zap!
Then, as if the current carried memory
As well as pain, he remembered
Another thing: his mother’s breast.
A single breast, in profile. Was he a baby?
It was full—of milk meant for him?—pale, lightly
Blue-veined. I saw my mother’s breast, he told them.
Christ, you disgust us. What next with the cock and
Titties? He thought carefully. He tried to bring them
Together, this couple. He didn’t know
Where they were. Perhaps they were
Dead already, somewhere. They the begetters.
It was cold outside. It was getting dark. It was begetting
Dark. But a light went on, a morning light.
Two figures skating to school, across
The frozen milky lake. She was such a good
Skater, travelling low, at first
I thought she was a boy, his father said.
The cold, the heavy coat, your
Thick swinging arms, the hat with flaps,
The rough scarf wound and wound
Concealing your chubby red face. And
At home your mother, remember, cooking—
They flared, coming to the surface
Like little doughy submarines, spitting oil —
What were they, those things we used to eat?
Those things we used to love.
Those things we used to hate.
Blair’s Anglo-Saxon England, Alcott’s Browning,
Leavis’s Lawrence, Chaucer the Maker,
Walt Whitman Reconsidered by Richard Chase,
A Blake Dictionary, Wordsworth by Herbert Read,
Partridge’s Companion to Old and Middle English Studies,
R. P. Blackmur’s The Lion & the Honeycomb,
The Classical Temper, The Crown of Life.
Bill’s left but his books are here. Stuff he didn’t want.
Three Sentimental Novels.
The Golden Notebook
I’m here, presumably,
to make you face reality.