By | 1 February 2020

Every moment of mortal smallness has a thread loosened in the fabric where a button was;
some days I glimpse infinity through that worsted eye, and some
a yawing flank about to bombs away a world of baggage

News of the latest killings has me stranded on the bath edge, cribbed by dread;
of course to my companion the dog this translates as a hiccup in the usual flow of habits,
so he is paws and haunches sphinx-like on the mat, head cocked in confusion

My hands leave off their frenzied wringing, landed in my lap they seem sluggish and strange—
octopus hands, veined and drying in their frail translucence
as if netted by a long line then pitched into the ribby stomach of a boat

Which I suppose a fish catcher might say is a small thing in the bigger scheme,
as with the dingo’s dreadful creature agony in the leg trap three long days before it will be shot,
or another country’s bears in cages, catheterized for bile

Surely no relation to our planetary feuds and neighbour wars and family estrangements,
those casual cruelties between two people who purport to love, but cart an accumulation of despair
to the café table, not speaking across the salt?

When smallness sends me, an atheist, inside the wishbones of someone else’s church,
I beg forgiveness for my part in a chimera that remakes itself each generation
with aliases

Humanity’s bannered cavalcade: digging the road ahead with indissoluble fervour,
breaking the spirits of dissenters with bulldozers,

While I’m there I say how bad I feel about the lunchtime soup—
all those tiny beings crushed in it—
and the gastronomic cruelty that boils lobsters alive

What if the cavalcade slowed its madness through the woods, the fields, the city square, and allowed a
question? About the bones, for instance, in the wheel tracks, about the mysterious foot without its shoe
on the dusty verge

Say such tank-like certainty met with shimmering doubt—a slick of impossible water to notice the sky
in—and shaped a new thought,
like, how does it feel to be an octopus?

The one whose ink is draining on a boat somewhere,
plucked from its muscular passage through kelp-shrouded waters,
no longer suckered in the crevices of its plankton world

Or say our human vanguard came upon the sand-bitten dingo in its final day, and someone
held that wretched metal-anchored sack of fly-blown skin as its cells unlatched and sinews loosed
from bone?

Beside the bath two ears are radared to my wet incomprehensible signals,
all that bowing and yawning now persuasion to a plan—
my companion makes me smile

He’s sure I’ll clamber sometime from the dark subduct geology of grief’s terrain,
knows I’ll risk infinity or a bombing behind his flag-tailed lead
to step outside and walk the dog.


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