Figures in the Water

By | 1 February 2020

What, Sir, would you have us do?
Rub powdered glass into the folds of old faces to make them anew?
Press the wasted shoulder to the wheel just to drive the point?
Turn young chests to coal face and tell us to seek our destiny in a vein of quartz?
Bend our faces to the dirt and tell us it is grain?
Force chins to necks and rub ash into the crowns of exposed crania?
I’ve seen you before, sir, rationing public losses like a bad Santa,
laying down your logic like a bloody roadmap to a utilitarian nirvana,
aiming the fourteenth finger at false foe and the refugee
while you flaunt your self-flagellation in the square and preach of
necessary sacrifice
while you deal in our commons with the ingrate by night.
Will you really suck that fat cigar and tell me it’s for medicinal purposes?
I get the feeling, Sir, that I’m being swindled, but I’ve no time to investigate.
Our toes are just touching the sandy bottom of the beach
nostrils flagging the air above the water, chins bobbing like apples in a rip tide,
each new wave knocking back our heads, blocking the oxygen yet again for
round three, or was it ten?
Our arms don’t work in this strange liquid,
so for now we’ll just teeter and tread as the tide of your floating
swirls our hair about our heads.
We must all be a sight from up high;
a watery mass crucifixion in the boat wreck bay of
last month’s digital commotion.
Remember, Sir,
how you forced us to watch as the last orange perished on the tree?
That day when the air scorched, the sky withered and the parched water bittered.
Now you say we’re all to sow seeds for another season of sweet prosperity in the glen
and that
we’ll get a taste of the rind at the end.
I try to exclaim that I’d be better to sow seeds in the hollow of my own neck;
That soon we’ll be on our knees panning for gold in the dustbowl that you’re constructing for us
But there’s something obstructing my gullet and my mouth strains to make shapes
let alone sounds, for the bind you’ve put on it.
But you told me to take this spade and dig my own grave,
because, you said, if I’m to lie in it then I should be the one to move the earth aside
and fit my awkward death in the space that’s left behind.
And yet,
now, in your desperate justifications, your mouth, once so precocious,
is flapping about in different directions, it emits only intermittent honks and
indecipherable snorts
that contradict your previous lamentations.
Now your villain is burning on the dock,
you’ve handed me a brick to throw at the smoke
but all I can think about are the figures in the water
and the way your fingers curl around the stones in your pocket
ready to cast them at the newest arrival.

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