TERENCE DOOLEY‘s pamphlet, The Why of It, has just been published by The Argent Press, and his translation of Eduardo Moga’s Selected Poems came out in April with Shearsman Books. He is Penelope Fitzgerald’s literary executor and has edited her letters and essays and written introductions for several of her novels, most recently for the new Spanish edition of The Bookshop.
Aside from a residual slight fear,
the aeroplane feels like a country bus:
stale air, stale sandwiches. No live hens
perhaps. A dull perspective of cloud tops,
relief map of brown hills, and thuds and bumps.
Ah, but the sight of a crimson globe beside
the other crimson globe in the dark blue sky
balloons in the heart like a jet of flame.
Above the wicker rim we just descry
a row of heads exultant in their ride.
Though, can’t we see their features now, and aren’t
they terrified? Isn’t their basket lopsided,
listing, bucketing, drifting closer to
the power-lines? That was the one thrill I
aspired to, when I was still alive.
Their grandfathers were born already wise
to why things happen and what happens next,
what money is and how to sweeten it,
how much or little love you need to spend
to have your way, and how to keep your waist
effortlessly slender, your hands clean,
ostensibly quite clean or else well-gloved.
We lack the inbuilt radio migrating birds
finesse, to fly from North to South, we live
from hand to mouth, and all our dreams go west.
When luck like lightning struck, we stood beneath
another tree, with molten fingerprints.
The two-pound coin we stoop to pluck resists
our grip. It glints, cemented to the ground.
As when the queue for the Bethlehem
snaked round the block, we stand in line
to see the animals. At night
the compound echoes with their cries.
We are locked out. They are locked in.
On TV we could watch them in the wild,
if in the wide world anywhere is wild.
Sex and murder. Alpha males
and alpha females copulate.
Lone killers strike. The others roam
in packs. The zoom-lens lingers on
the victim’s agony. The zebra
doesn’t change his stripes. What nice coats
they have. What gleaming teeth.
Like all the other shows this one is noir.
The zoo in daytime: well-fed beasts asleep.
Our jeep has stalled inside the big-game park.
We wind up the windows and wait.
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