An Elegy

The fallen ones do return, Marina,
With many roads to death, one exit;
Restored in rosemary and verbena,
They’d laugh at Pandemics and Brexit.

You see, nothing will change or fade,
Wheelwright’s brand humanity,
Where only wheels were ever made
For conveying misery.

Your golden hair was poet’s fire,
Verses like arson, exploding malpractice;
I could not disrobe the clothing of liars
The way you exposed them, a female Atlas

Condemned to bear a crate
Of man’s rotting apples, the weight
And the shape of a globe. Your gate
Wanted oiling, your river in spate.

So I thought again of my childhood,
Suppression is more than state-welded;
It spores like moss and ferns in the wood
Until darkness and sunlight are melded.

I rode a bike like a horse into battle,
The driveway my Sevastopol,
My pen’s an unsheathed sabre’s rattle,
Through fields of rye for alcohol

Fermented, how adulthood lamented
For the limits and shackles it made itself;
Carefully the state had creatives cemented;
Two decades later, your book’s on the shelf.

I am blessed, I could escape as matter stands,
I hope to never know the pressures
Which exist in the mind and the hands
Of wheat in the wake of the threshers.

Use powerful words to sentence strife,
Fly me, poets, to Yelabuga; 1941;
Let’s bring a poet back to life,
Let’s fill old age with her song.

 

The Anorectic’s Contest

From scalp to soles, all muscles atrophied,
She courts water flavoured with aniseed
For an emetic. It’s seven days now
Since signing her sisterhood’s wasted vow.

Her chest’s like mine, her bones are clean,
Servery patients crowned her queen;
We meet without eating, only talk about food,
She tires quickly, and quick to brood.

Tattoos shrunk, teeth turn black,
A single cordon keeps death back
In exchange for her youth, an appetiser;
May a long later life be one tranquilizer.

 

N.B This poem is written in remembrance of a member of my family’s experience, and as a response to Wisława Szymborska’s Bodybuilders’ Contest