Praemoneo de periculis
Listen, don't listen to them. Your day will come.
Up, like a satiny Lazarus, lapsed but swaggering.
One perfect day: figs, fair swimming in honey,
and coffee sipped to a rare liquorice conviction.
What matters least is waiting. You can wait.
And will. The years sink into you, like liqueur
into sugar; their sweetness holds the shape
of your dissolving. Not yet. Caught between
anticipate and rue, this tundra fluxes under
you. No mind, you briefed the birds: the shrike
and tern. Siege of herons. Guillemot or whimbrel,
brace. Days your tongue's a crypt. Days you'll
look a harbour in the mouth. The sea, one side
of a staring match. Gulls, auks, minions
of the guillotine, brisking their indifference
through air. The wheeling diesel whim of boat
and bonxie. Reeling girl, leaning over the rail,
learning into the wind, a birds' arithmetic
of mercury. You can wait. Ghosts are there:
robber earls, fishers of risk. Your teacher's
dusty lips are set in protestant compromise.
Are you stupid? No. But you carry this
flammable litany into her classroom: to hold
a word to light, to feel the salt against its
creeping lyric skin. Could you boil the English
out of you? Could you afford a voice? No. Not
yet. Skua: her pirate skew of talk. Your words
are English, not a language but a rationing.
You can wait, and listen: you are making
a nest in your enemy. You are the egg
in the enemy mouth. Child of chickweed,
squill, and bits. The pinks and rattles,
rags and banes. You'll crouch or squall
and best the tempest every time. Bonxie:
her tail is a taper touched to the storm.
Your eyes will be the heads of matches too.
In time. In time. Of course they'll hate
you. Their arrows of advantage. Luminous
with cruelty. A glow that eats through things
like radium, their language. It will take so
long. You will recognise your innocence,
the special weight of flight. Prepare a pocket
for his penknife in your flesh. I don't know
what to tell you. It will not end, this tubercular
tension in the chest. Not yet. It isn't fair.
Voyeurs with murmuring theorems. Sinister
magicians, palming stars. And you'll go where
the sea is different: a million pedant dissections.
Waves chopped out with the edge of someone's
credit card. You will not weep. Moths will eat
their way out of your eyes. You will not tell.
Talk has an insole's rubbery unfurlment,
and yours is the secondguessed language
of gulls, or dogs. One day you'll return to
your sea, your glorious accomplice, keeper
of gluts and damages. It will wake you, pouring
out. You will break apart, in the best way,
leave the bed as birds.
Dr Fran Lock is a some-time itinerant dog whisperer, the author of seven poetry collections and of numerous chapbooks, most recently Contains Mild Peril (Out-Spoken Press, 2019). Fran has recently completed her Ph.D. at Birkbeck College, University of London, titled, "Impossible Telling and the Epistolary Form: Contemporary Poetry, Mourning and Trauma". She is an Associate Editor at Culture Matters.