WATER

by George Marsh


Thereís a dead man on the Lifer wing. I left him there with my Lifer friends and came to gaze at the lake. The dripping dip of oars and complaints of a goose reach me across the still water from a mile away.

pale afternoon
a grebe vanishes
into the white mirror

C is a dangerous little career criminal with flat northern vowels. His mother tortured him. But he has just learned politeness and likes it.
 
Sís mother sold him to her queer doctor for £15. Now he writes his engineering thesis.
 
K is the prison billiards champion with the silly smile. His mother had a toxic tongue. His brother escaped through suicide and K turned on her.
 
Jís father forced his pet rabbit down his throat. Now heís brittle as a corn dolly. Secondary cancers devoured him.
 
Who was the monster that was C, spooked on alcohol and speed, on the rampage in 1986 with murder in his heart?
Who was S when he shot the wrong woman?
Who was it who lifted Kís hammer?
Who battered Jís wife?
 
Inside the precarious Self cobbled together by sadism and abuse, on no rational basis, by a frightened child with no strategies, and no help, is there a True Self? And is it calm, and tasteless?
 
† Set that aside. Set all that aside. There is love. Not in what your mum and dad gave you, perhaps, but in politeness, engineering, and billiards; and in the body, which is made of it. Jís body lost its own love, but I love him more freely now heís dead.

pub lunch Ė
wiping gravy from my lips
the hankyís still wet

Despite the overcast sky there is a mysterious illumination within the scene. Clouds glow, the water gleams. Itís so calm, and tasteless, that I hold my breath like K at a billiards shot.

I darenít move
or the lake
will wobble

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