Catherine Edmunds


These homicide days and suicide nights
fat as quagmires carved in stone
when waitresses lie like Algerian watches
and dragons from Calais flame squats near Montmartre:

these are the times, blameless as sunrise, dumb as potatoes,
when somebody asks you, how ‘bout some Bert Weedon?
and you realise there is nothing, nothing, more beautiful
than songs sung like kittens purring in engines,

like Virginia, one hundred and six, visiting the White House
and dancing, dancing, aware she might die in the next half hour,
but not caring, removing the growth rings one by one
to reveal the sapling beneath

while outside two armies at stalemate await munitions
the bridge people fear the final whistle
a mother rasps at her child – keep crying,
I’ll give you something to cry about.

It will not do. This city strains with ancient men
dreaming of women, sweet with vanilla, the endless nights;
of childhood, pure and heroic laced with spitfires,
Neapolitan ice cream, tea leaves, bananas.

I linger on page nine hundred and ninety-nine. I am slow
but patient. Been doing this for years, still ugly as then,
still thin, still broken by suicide. A man makes a pilgrimage
trailing a cabbage on a leash; his actions make more sense
than anything else I’ve heard this day.

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