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Arachne. No. 3

Six Sonnets, Unpleasant

Six Sonnets, Unpleasant

What Frightens Most

What frightens most is not being able
to see through the door at who knocks
or under the solid surface of the table
at the dark secret place the frocks
conceal; the place where it seems
half-wanted, a hand moves damply, where,
you are sure, you hear a scream's
nerve Your alive only supersonic ear —
Listen: detects. Yes: it is true, if
only you could, but not in company,
twitch, put the hand there, in a jiff
all would be smiling and sweetly
and it wouldn't be what most shocks
the gooseflesh to stand straight when something knocks.

page 17


We do not ask you to suspend disbelief
unwillingly, but rather give something
of love, something of effort and grief
and there will sure enough be the real ring
to the diminished illusion. I do not tell
you, 'here in a minute I shall ring a bell',
to no purpose without preparing you for
something to jangle like thunder at the door.
You are uneasy already, I see, not knowing
who the magician is who is talking
glibly thus. Shall I uncover myself, showing
how really your own sweet terror is walking
you unawares out at midnight and you
are shuddering, naked, wondering what you will do ?

The Kiss

Something soft and loose he kissed her with,
as though the juice had all run out
of something hard between his teeth,
oozed, yellowly, unheard, into her mouth.
She shuddered, closed her eyes — and tried again
and fainting, fell against dark sensual breath
fetid upon her wishes. She felt death —
for always life is death — stroke with its pain
of teasing pleasure there where coming of age
taught most. Like hairs upon her tongue.
All necessary words are found for buried parts;
who knows how much hurts or where hearts,
so sudden in fierce heat most fiercely burn,
or where is most that pulped kiss makes her yearn ?


Well, sing to them, lullaby lines
my loves whose voices a mirage
of tears will mirror. Sleepers
walk through the midnight mirrors;
the medieval streets and squares
rouse from squalor and the signs,
palaces, are bright to the fond eye
finding at last the outward poetry
sensed and seen hidden beneath
time's ageing, dirty overbrooding sheath.
There's isn't need to wake — dance
in this time reclaimed and know France
is again promise and fair and sleep
will kiss you kindly through what else you weep.

page 18

The Children

More violent only since their hands accomplish
so little meaning, frustrant then destroy:
Children ! children ! the bridges falling; the skies
a menace of fantails: and the decoy —
that foreign officer with suave accent, polish,
breathing upon his fingers in the frost.
They have stolen and hidden his gloves.
And do they remember histories
written, perished for less, and lost
in the rectories of time: such symbols love's
hands willingly (glass-slipper-myth) fitted?
Upon such meagre breakages have filtered
light of a dozen baroque domestic days,
and never the careless children mend their ways.

The Music Teacher

The music teacher, dread in this girls' world,
seemed all their fates — to them — doom
wrapped in one small man whom wild
dreams raptured with in each dark room
at summer nightfall. Singing they
would rise on tides of dreams — love
lave, lay naked by — surge upon do, me, ray,
and 'never, never, do not ask me, leave',
Each, in her heart, felt a base earthbound
urge to seize his flesh in hand
and leap all hidebound laws
to fasten him one moment, swiftly hers.
Oh, but what trick of fate the dream destroys.
He was deported for his affairs, with boys.