He was completely dissatisfied with
conventional spellings. Unable to settle
upon Jeff or Geoff, he mixed the names his
mother offered him. On the day I met him,
Gef explained that he was quite unlike a normal.
Mongoose eyes and weasel nose, his rodent voice
pattered about with Dr Seuss, The Bible:
‘Your mountain is waiting. Eloi Eloi,
lama sabachthani. So get on your way.
There’s no nutter like a fellow nutter. Hello!’
Gef was stark raving, so we got along fine.
Both of us, we’ve never liked crossing roads.
We took the back way to everywhere, climbing
out from under the winter hedge with bits
of dry, brown grass and seed pods. Stuck to his
clothes were the trappings of lunacy,
I quickly pulled them on with pride. There’s a word
for it: hypomania, and we dashed from the woods
to the night to the day to the sea. Sand crusted
our bodies with the texture of bathers. On a
crowded beach is a diagram of human madness,
and he scraped it out wet with one shaking finger.
‘All of these people, they cannot see their pattern.
There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious,
fact-ridden surface of life. But if I draw a line here - ’
his bright eyes flashed hot, ‘we can see it how
it turns itself up the right way.’ I scoured his sandscape
eager jumpy glances. ‘It looks like a turtle.’
He nodded. ‘I knew you’d understand.’
One morning Gef was not waiting by the front gate.
I asked the nurse, but her interrogation of surnames
rattled my head like a seed pod and blew out
my thoughts like dry strips of grass.
Cross-legged under a tree, I took a stick
etched out a self-righting turtle in the dirt.
Today's poem is based on suggestions from six people:
@jellyjellyfish: “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact” (Arthur Conan Doyle, The Boscombe Valley Mystery)
@matchtrick: “Gef explained that he was quite unlike a normal mongoose” (Richard Wiseman, Paranormality)
@gingerandhoney: "climbing out from under the winter hedge with bits of dry, brown grass and seed pods stuck to his clothes"
@ernmalleyscat: "The texture of bathers on a crowded beach is a diagram." (Christopher Alexander, Notes on the Synthesis of Form)
@facelikethunder: "Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani" (Mark 15:34)
@timsterne: "We've never liked crossing roads." (Lars Iyer, Spurious)
Aramaic and an abnormal mongoose named Gef! What could be easier to work into a poem. Ahem.