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SHERYLL (poem) - Adam Aitken - Australia - Poetry International

 
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SHERYLL
Sheryll, I saved you from a knife,
you sailed close to the furies, and saved me too.
Your version of an angel lives in stone and won’t sleep well.
Your guard dog sweettalks nightmare stalkers
in the garden’s dark. The window’s only
glazed light and fetid air, this world’s anger staring in.
I forgive your big mouth, for no underworld
cuts your tongue away, the way you shamed that demon.
What’s unravelled since is more than blood on a T-shirt.
My shrink prescribed a course of window shopping
to put you back in the family, he said.
More blue pills and Mr Average drives in suburbs
of nothing serious, autism with a high savings rate.
Silence kills everything but the weeds. So

leave me more: easy memories, or perfume sampler
whiff of KL teargas and temples, the bright and their beyond
we could not save, sweat-free optimists in millennial towers,
sambal nation of rough diamonds lurking in a mega-mall.
Your writers fed with publisher’s lunches, advances, more books:
yes, it’s the living who are loud, don’t you think?
The fevered beating of your wings delivered me,
our would-be killer’s still at large
and your dreams ride with a knife under your pillow –
each night you close the windows
and curl up, vengeful as a child, and hone your finger
on its mindless edge.
Our sleepless readers will understand.

*

Of the artery & the heart
that side step off a ledge –
I was blessed, like a cat.
How well he writes, the papers say.
I had God lined up
to place a bet & break my bank.
Endless bar-talk: I was
magician, or fool, sacred amulets
round my neck.
No one says they saw it coming, blade held low
in masking tape.
Pride hides in the true coward, my
handsome bête noire
the iron age promotes
to a warrior.
He signs his victims with a flourishing serif,
his cheque honoured no-where.

Was it bravery?
When he carved I did not
feel a thing –
was it just
great technique?

*

The would-be killer you escape
is the killer you could be,
choreography of a brain
tuning anger to the page.
To die in lieu of mourning, your life


a hologram, text of grit and light
lasered to a cheap pirate CD
flogged in Chinatown.
You go to Heaven and they say it’s free
where the angels mourn
and don’t get paid.

*

If I switch the blade on him
what will I sing?
Dark sensurround of muscle & flesh
holds me down between two cars
drives the bolt across hell’s gates,
I push back & his eyes go black with fear
& slow extinction.
Eternity in two breaths of air.
Shiva’s chief examiner
fails first time
to hurt the thing he sees, so female you are,
apparition he aimed to please.
Messing with the gods, razor at my ear,
eyes that drill twin black holes of hate.
I stare my failed assassin down as doubt
assails me doubly: my eyes
now, or have they ever been
such polished mirrors
that multiply the mirror of that evening sky?
My god a woman of such eloquence
I waste him for?

Dear Sheryll,
from the gutter you can see the stars,
dry, intact, the final renaissance.
Shiva presses down his night-time puja,
one holy sacrifice.
Now I know no other face.
For it was a desert down there,
myth & message tumbling in a wind
& wailing somewhere deep within.
We found such hate we danced
on the point of a pin.