Summer left us and the trees dropped their skirts
to make a new carpet with their glowing.
Smoldering crimson or scarlet skins stirred
around your ankles, your feet peripherally
in the thick of things. You have glasses on
your nose and autumn in your heart,
skittering out your blood like leaves.
I hoped the memory of summer would
keep us warm, but you were razor-angry,
spitting tacks at people I’d never met:
‘He was a cockroach.’ With no muscles
anywhere, I bluffed light your fury, chanted
‘Ego non baptizo te in nomine patris,
sed in nomine diaboli’ and then regretted it so.
The tiger came into the kitchen with your reply:
‘I baptize you in the name of your own father.’
That March, we managed to say everything
that a problem would need. Very tall dogs
of war let slip over our back fence and sidled
into the house like arguments, nosed into
small corners of hurt that we had long papered
over or set to freeze around June.
Every fading February undid us a little further, that
new season a courier who gave you the message
in colours: red for frustration, purple for anger.
Brown for boredom, dulled flat under tired feet.
Like every year I wondered if we might not
crunch taut through another autumn.
Today's poem is based on suggestions from eight people:
@ernmalleyscat: "Problem - would need very tall dogs" (Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie, The Goodies' Book of (Criminal) Records)
@timsterne: "He was a cockroach with no muscles anywhere." (Me, my Grade 6 yearbook)
@matchtrick: 'So the tiger came into the kitchen' (Judith Kerr, The Tiger Who Came to Tea)
@facelikethunder: “Ego non baptizo te in nomine patris, sed in nomine diaboli!” (Herman Melville, Moby Dick) ("I baptize you not in the name of the father, but in the name of the devil")
@spikelynch: "you have glasses on your nose and autumn in your heart" (Isaac Babel, How Things Were Done In Odessa)
@marklawrence: "With their glowing, smoldering crimson or scarlet skins" (Stephanie Alexander, 'Cherries', The Cook's Companion)
@_boobook_: 'Who gave you the message?' (Robert Graves, I Claudius)
@scooter_lass: 'Peripherally in the thick of things' (Peter Timms, In search of Hobart)
Even though I wrote it at 6am, it's a late posting, due to fun with friends and keeping my child up way beyond his bedtime. A good excuse for delayed poetry if ever I heard one.