Tuesday 1 May 2007

Identity by Alan Dunnett

At night, I think I hear this child, a sound
among the deep still dark and yellow windows.
No one stirs. I used to think the cats
were children, very small children crying insistently
and insane. I saw the cats. I heard them.
But now I hear a low, slow intermittent running
in my inner ear; molten, worm-like. It is not sour wax.
My ear turns into a chrysalis whose shell bursts apart
and in a floor of the air stands the voice of the child,
heard only by me, impossible to prove! If I make you see,
it becomes nothing: a conjuror's coin disappearing between fingers.
A smudge of sweat at its last, greasy glistening in the palm.
You are here, beside me. Welcome. I am in your spell,
I am outside your spell. You smile. Whatever does that mean?
You believe I asked you here. Perhaps. One thing is clear.
There is a sound. Look out. Look down. I am outside
like Nebuchadnezzar, ugly in excrement, head
cocked. My pupils are the orange edges of doors.
Yet you say, if you hear anything, it is only a cat.

Previously published in Interpreters House

Alan Dunnett, London, UK

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