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.
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
“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
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.
A little boy beside Kate
“This is Jacob.
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?
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.
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.