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Hostage

March 27, 2019

I practise holding still as settled sand,
although my heartbeat’s caving in so fast
I barely hear the voice, nor feel the hand
directing me to lift the blindfold and
advance towards the knot of waiting cars.

 

I practise mentally how I will kneel
and face the world – face you – with dignity;
imagine how the slicing blade will feel…
if I’ll succumb to crumbling consciousness,
to crippling fear, or simple agony?

 

I practise holding both hands in the air
and calling out my name when armed men storm
the door, obeying their commands as glare
from sudden sunlight slants through dust and din,
and certain hands propel me from the room.

 

I practise holding out my arms to you
as wide as any tranquil summer sea,
when ransom or rescue returns me to
the shore my trespasses had wrenched me from,
and picture you forgiving me.

 

But mostly I rehearse the smallest moments:
Sunday walks, the pier, the tree we climbed;
the neighbours’ girl; the wheeling starlings – omens,
surely, even then, I’d disenchant
our world and discombine the layers of time.

 

The cliffs, the wheeling starlings: omens, yes.
But what I did to her – to you – I did.
You know my darkness now: only my death
could free you to remember me again,
but will not free you – free her – to forgive.

 

Published in Earlyworks 2018 anthology

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