I dreamt the cathedral clergy were all in a row
in their black outfits, at midnight,
outside Morrisons on New Year’s Eve.
They each blessed us as we passed, according
to social distancing –
touch of an elbow to elbow, forced lopsided smiles.
As I passed Louisa at her station, with her
glasses and her big black hair, I said
can I bless you, too?
No that’s not allowed is it
She said no it isn’t no that’s not allowed
Two mermaid cakes, one for each new five
carried in enwrapped in white,
bright blue, turquoise and lilac
fondant and each enthroned, sugar-fleshed
merwoman with strands of yellow
icing hair, scrumptious lips and porn-star boobs.
As soon as the song’s done and blown out Birthday Girl
One rips off the dotty white chocolate
buttons covering each breast of her cake
with bare hands, straight to the gob.
Birthday Girl Two’s mother nearby and tall
with brown skin and long black hair
and breast cancer smiles
Did you see that?
the prayer net at Looe
cut-wool pieces in red,
blue, yellow, white,
green from bouncy balls of
yarn. Little snips
of gut or word. Each tied
in a careful minute to a square
of stiff oiled net draped
like a mouth on the dormant
church wall – quivering fins.
First, dotted across in deliberate
bows. Then, closer in and space
gathers itself; they begin
to huddle in patches, like
Neues Museum, Berlin. Room 210
The head is still, its rush-like swaying
paused in the transparent case that washes
up like light. In this sanctum is
no other object, cast or form
to blur, or interrupt the seeing lines.
Dads in parkas shuffle
in and gaze sidelong, afraid; sleepless
aunts and rumpled children
quicken when they see her, extend
and love her. Her neck is the width
of a swan’s, yes, or snake’s. Her face’s skin
pulled drum-like and polished
hard in a mother’s daily
weariness, till the under-eye lines
sear like whitened burns.
In day’s hours we watch her
greet them as they gather
drawn to this iris, this cone of honey.
They queue up to pass, lap
like waves beside her, to receive the darshan
from her one, black eye. We, the guards
are appointed to keep her watched
on her soft stem. With sweeping movements
we maintain the star-like space around her,
this chapel. We guide the others
by our gestures, invitation. Come.
Image © JJenson92