Monday, January 2, 2012

The Third Death (Month of Poetry #2)

Let's sort out the facts, once and for all, of his
final unravelling, for it must be invoked by name.
He had been waiting for death, and had become
accustomed to its weight. People can get used to anything.
Except dying was his habit, he wore the noose in comfort
like a bridle; a cravat; a young child's arms.

This week he was to be named and crowned Rasputin.
The six men rode out in the democrat-wagon,
an old wagon sat by the shore for just such
pitchfork purpose. Each man longed for a torch to
flame righteous words along the horizon.
No matter that it would not warm her body.

The town rustled its skirts and pressed thrills against
the notion of his lacerated skin. They whispered:
'He was a wicked man, a bully,' and everyone was glad.
To see him die would wash the pretty poison from their
mouths, protect their stock and educate their children.
His wrung-out neck would set a hundred heads to nodding.

He waited inside for ropes and creaking wagon-men.
'Better be hanged at home than die like dogs.'
In Ireland he would have taken himself to them
and opened his veins to show them the dust.
Here instead he waited, winding them under toward him
with all the keel-haul of his deed.

Stilled in his chair at their rowdy entrance,
he kept his movements careful and they fumbled
as they dragged him. And became gentle.
The man who threw his rope across the branch
apologised the jerking of the noose against his skin.
'It is no matter,' he replied. They drew him up silent.

He had died twice before. Once at her mouth in movement,
once at her eyes in stillness. He had been waiting for this
third death, and had become accustomed to its weight.
Swinging heavily and dimmed, he saw her image
As if through mottled windows, fleeting in and out of the glass.
Her fair plaits hung forward like ropes, then tightened.


Today's poem is based on suggestions from eight people:

@robcorr: "The six men rode out in the democrat-wagon" (HP Lovecraft, The Color out of Space)
@_camer0n: "An old wagon sat by the shore" (Tyrone T. Thomas, 120 Walks in Victoria)
@gretapunch: "He was a wicked man, a bully. Everyone was glad to see him die" (South Pacific. Is that even a book, Gil? Whatever.)
@jellyjellyfish: "Better be hanged at home than die like dogs in Ireland" (1599: A Year in the Life of Shakespeare)
@_boobook_: "Her fair plaits hung forward like heavy ropes" (Christine Harris, Audrey of the Outback)
@ernmalleyscat: "fleeting in and out of the glass" (Kathleen Stewart, Under the Giant Clam Shell)
@attentive: "it must be invoked by name" (Michael Shea, A Quest for Simbilis)
@timsterne: "People can get used to anything, except dying" (Richard Beard, Lazarus is Dead)

It never ceases to amaze me how a bunch of random suggestions can suggest a theme. Today there was lots of death/hanging/ropes, and...err...wagons. So I made a story around them.

Also, it's 40 degrees today and I can't face venturing out to find free wifi, so I've typed this on my phone. I hate to think what blogger will do to the formatting once I post it. *shakes fist dramatically in advance*


Anonymous said...

This sweeps you along with exquisite language. Well done, Anna.

Penni Russon said...

My god woman. You're a bit scary. And slightly brilliant.

Anna said...

Heh, thanks guys :)