Monday, 31 October 2016

Little Boy Blue

His teeth don’t chatter 
all night like they used to.
He sings with frogs, polishes the wings
of beetles, sits on the lips of wells,
legs hanging down,
like a pair of thirsty tongues.

He sad-clowns for the barn owls –
tough crowd but he coaxes
a couple of hoots before they carry
their heart-shaped faces and hunger
for warm, wriggling things
off into the dark.

He builds tiny churches for ants
from pine cones and feathers.
He stares into nests for hours.
Eggs obsess him. And baby mice: 
so bald and blind;
so terribly pink.

Into the bark of an old elder tree,
hunched near the edge of town,
he scores, each evening with a rusty blade,
a different boy’s name –
Tim, Owen, Arthur – hoping
one day to read back his own.

Take a walk that way 
and he might greet you, opening wide 
his ribcage, like a coat 
lined with counterfeit watches. 
You won’t see him, but a faint 
ticking will trouble the air.

Clouds remind him of something,
but he can never remember what.
He lets the wind play him like a flute
– or an oboe when he’s blue.
In lonely meadows, scarecrows 
sway to his tunes.

He makes snow angels and asks them
questions until they melt into the ground.
None have answered yet.
He’ll sigh from time to time, so softly,
upon your resting eyelids,
and this is how he steals sleep from you.

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