The boy had been hollow rose
Carved out from the hip bones of his mother
Beautiful as a choked out sob against silk pillows
Beautiful as a neck bent back swanlike to display the pulse
Beautiful as an eggshell is to crush and feel the yellow juice spill down
Once. Once he had been that hole
A space to fill with so much Other Blood
Now he stands on the banks of a bright river, Old,
Full, frayed, and spilling out onto the bank
No one comes near
The fear of all the screaming demons, stench and blade sharp thorns that close around him
Holds the world away
But still he will stay
He heard a story once; a whisper, rumour, gossip or snatch of song that clung like a butterfly to his sleeve – there is a land across the river, where you can see the stars fall to earth and in their fierce, full, burning beauty there is peace.
So he will stay.
He has, after all, come this far and though he has no boat, no bridge, no strength, no way
To cross that bright water still
he will stay
until the wind, rain, earth, and sun turn his leather into crusted bark and his hair hangs down black branches into the bright water ; marking the furthest reach of his great yearn and strain,
A Poison Tree, black against a spill of cream,
dark berried and barbed,
and the shame
The girl had been the canvas for their Art
That was their excuse
And what did it matter? She wore her soul like amber and jet
around her neck
So what should she care?
When they flayed off her silks, her skin, her flesh, her hair
When her eyes and tongue were burnt away
And she walked proud in her bones, her soul gleaming topaz and garnet round her waist
They took their knives
and into her splintering marrow
The weight of their names
Her vandalised frame
Their scars in grim, bold, calm, displays
if she grew fatigued one day and laid down in the ink dark arms
of the cold bright river and whispered
“Carry me away”...
She heard a story once; a whisper, rumour, gossip, or snatch of song that clung like city smog to her hair – there is a land across the river, where you can see the stars fall to earth and if they fall into a poor girl’s hand, they become Talers and she can buy herself sweet freedom and a taste of sky.
“I will be your boat” The girl whispered from the water
The boat that was also a skeleton
The skeleton that was also a girl
“I will carry you and we will see the stars fall together.”
And the old man who was almost a tree, heaved up his twisted roots
And stepped into her.
And when the stars fell, they were not Talers,
They were only tears
But when the universe was cried away,
The old man’s palm, was crossed with silver.