She Is Seen As Unseen


keeps to the dark of the tides,
so he keeps away from the riverside.

Every time she moves inland,
he wishes to be better lit.

Her breaths are not hidden.
Whisper arousal,

a swan’s wing away from brokenness.


laplap of waves in dry shadow under lintels
when he walks to work.

Historically the town has never been flooded.
River height engineered low as if an anger

held in check by self control.
Night to him is when the streets sway

under water, like weed.
And in the day

the lap of dark castor fibers gnaw willowbark
at water’s edge, loosen sense so if the rains

come as before he will have no defence
in the deluge.

Her lightless body will smother
every hole in his body. He will

gasp for air, lungs so painful
he must find light to breathe.


A harsh click. He imagines a moorhen,
then sees a brusque robin,

red chest on a white gargoyle
in a neglected garden,

with a mossy fence and high weed,

“A swinging brick for a heart.
Ericathus rubicula. Robin, love.”

declares a woman in rollers
and black cat onesie

when she crosses his path
to put out a recycling bin.


“Come in for a coffee. I’ve just brewed up.”
“On my way to work.”

“Call on your way home. I’ll be in.”
“I don’t know you.”

“You have an interest in birds is all I need to know “
“I could be a stalker. What’s your mobile number?”

“Don’t mess with those.
Google means go,ogle.

Portable masturbation devices,
bit of vibration, bit of titillation.

I’d rather ogle what’s around me.
Get a feel, if I can.

Who would stalk this?”
She models her rollers, onesie and Muppet slippers.


He calls at her home after work,
to see a slim blonde spray tanned

young woman knelt down in tight pink
short shorts, and crop top plunge

a bright trowel
into the hard

weedful soil.
“Hi.” she says “I’m Raquel.”

“Kate said you might pop by.
So I said I give you a head

start. Shouldn’t have got my
nails done. Blonde for a reason, eh!”

He sees the dark tide rise
in her pale blue eyes

hears the swan’s wing
whisper arousal.


A shout from the front door.
“Aye, my bush needs a trim.

You up to it?”
“Kate. You’ll scare him off.”

They laugh out loud.
He grins.

A little boy beside Kate
looks bemused.

“This is Jacob.
Raquel’s mistake.

Go shake the man’s
hand, then.” she pushes

Jacob toward him.
“Come on in. Can’t have

the neighbours saying
I’m not sociable,

and I’m sure you’ve ogled
enough of Raquel’s nature

for now. Jacob, get in
you little scamp.”


He was glad their house number was 61.
It added up to 7, his favourite number.

In a morning he always did exercises.
20 arm swings. Touch toes once.

Lackadaisical on days adding up to four.
More focus. Be wary.

He always counted when taking medicines.
He knew it would go wrong

if he didn’t count correctly.


His dry migraine heave into the pan.
I don’t need this. A hollow icy stomach.

Shot through with roll of her wild warm
darkest high swell over his inadequate

flood defences when they made
as if to hug, but resolved to shake hands

in the neglected garden. She sucked
him towards her, lifted him, then let

him fall. Adrift. Balance gone.
Skin’s memory of her tender touch

fevers his blood. I don’t need this.
She has found him, awash with her shadows,

smothers every chance for breath, blocks
all access to light, glowers above him,

and her swan’s wing snaps his bones, one by one.
His dilated eyes make both women one.


Raquel, and he can’t bring himself
to say the name of her in the past

merge into one woman who loves him,
but gives him nothing but pain.

A nervous knock on the bathroom door.
“You alright, mister?” He answered

with a grunt. “Mam sent me to check.”
“Dinner’s ready.” And footsteps down

the hall. Indistinct voices. The taste
of boiled new potatoes and cabbage.

Footsteps return. Soft knock.

“Are you a breast or leg man?

Mam says.

He takes a deep breath, counts

to seven and leaves the bathroom.


As he sits next to Jacob,

Kate announces “Gallus Gallus domesticus

hacked at by Raquel.

Breast or legs? Jacob never got a reply.”

“Either or both.” he says timidly.

“ I like a man who likes a whole woman.

Doesn’t break her down.

Into little parts like tits n’ ass.”

“Kate”. admonishes Raquel with a wink,

and nod to Jacob.

“Excuse Kate’s behaviour.

She comes on strong

when men’s about.”

“Excuse Raquel’s coquettishness.”

replied Kate. “This place is a Women’s Refuge for bored, abused

and lonely women.

Red or white? Wine.

Homemade. Plenty of.

Red, it is. Suck it up.

Bleed me dry, Raquel.”


It all seems to slip after the first bottle.

He can’t remember.

Perhaps, Raquel took him upstairs

to sleep it off. Undressed him.

Put the covers over.

Undressed herself and slipped in.

He hears wings and his bones crack.

He can’t breathe. Her thighs

either side of his head. Ripples,

then waves, then swell. He

drowns in her darkness.


She always wakes before the alarm

on her mobile starts

and counts to seven. The alarm

is a recording of a German woman

bringing herself off.

“Raquel. Turn that down or off.

I’ve opened the windows. Not

everyone wants to hear

a German woman masturbating

first thing in the morning!” shouts

her companion Robin from the kitchen.


Raquel is bemused by her dreams.

In them she’s always a man

who is killed by a woman called Raquel.

As dresses she glances at her notes

beside the bed: “Simultaneously

wave and particle, alive and dead,

ghost particles, energy transference,

male and female, swan’s wing hypothesis.”

Business lunch at “The Beavers Dam.

Recently unsandbagged. Historically,

The town has always been flooded.

She dresses for her body shape,

legs longer, breasts curvier, sharpens

her red lipstick, practises her smile,

her best asset: confidence.

All in the seeming, seem to make

the invisible visible, frivolous serious.


Over a morning coffee.

“You’re all heart Robin”,

“Mine’s a swinging brick.

Clickety click.”

her companion replies.

“What’s yours, your Ladyship?”

“Drowning in swan’s wings,

at the moment.”

“Sock it to that little boy

of a boss, Jacob. Raq.

Don’t let him run off.”


Dreams, better lenses, maps,

uncover better ways to see

the invisible. How can we

really see the people we know?

Access invisible knowledge.

Knowledge of the now gone,

or never seen, only known

through hints and shadows.


Raquel recalls her late sister Kate

finds a wishbone in her chicken,

holds one curved bone

in crook of her little finger,

offers Raquel the other

to hold likewise.

“Make a wish.”

And now Raquel wishes

the future was known.

Kate gagged on her own vomit,

drunk and drugged up

Lovers Lane, while her male

companion survived. The bastard.

Grief is in the dark under lintels,

sometimes a ripple, then a wave,

then a swell lifts her up

makes her move in a small orbit

around it before return

to breathe in the light.

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