The horror

The horror

for Alexander Narkiewicz

We two were born, entwined like vines,
To share dull destiny:
To quarry stone, crush copper ore,
Or trawl the Irish Sea.
We sprouted from the same soft seed,
Shared one radicle root;
From sleepy soil our common toil
Sprung double dicot shoot.

Two feet in one tight boot.

We gave thanks to earth and water,
The breath that lent us life,
And to the spark that cut the dark,
Whetting our hunting knife.
We drank deep from the wishing well,
Wore furs to fight the cold;
And all the while on the Honey Isle
We were never growing old,
Dear brother,
We were never growing old.

We’d trip through ferns as brambles snagged,
Pluck mushrooms from the ground,
And suckle blood from blackberries
Till Michaelmas came round.
The snow on the Carneddau range,
It never seemed to melt –
More moulted on March mornings mild
Its weary winter pelt.

We wondered how that felt.

And once the breeding season passed
We’d row out to Priestholm
To feast on puffin flesh and eggs
Amid the pink tide foam.
The sunset on the Menai Strait
Would gleam like cloth of gold;
And all the while on the Mother Isle
We were never growing old,
Dear brother,
We were never growing old.

We ranged the cliffs and wrecked the ships,
Swift-stirring eggshell broth.
We donned the skins of long-dead seals,
A rough and rusty cloth.
We slept beneath the firmament
On pillows of moist moss.
We measured midnight skies in sighs,
A glimmering grey gloss

For us to sail across.

In the deer park’s narrow quarry
We gathered ovine bones,
Up Flagstaff top we built with rocks
Our own great limestone thrones.
We wrote the rules and damned the fools
Who’d do as they were told.
And all the while on the Angle Isle
We were never growing old,
Dear brother,
We were never growing old.

Though there were only two of us
As far back as we knew,
I couldn’t help but think that I
Went further back than you;
You couldn’t help but think that you
Went further back than me,
So we fools fell to wrestling then
Beneath the brave yew tree

By Penmon Priory.

We fought fair well, we lasted long,
Until the evening’s shade
Caught your coat and I cut your throat
With our hot hunting blade.
My open mouth in your glass eyes
A horror to behold;
And all the while on the Darkling Isle
We were never growing old,
Dear brother,
We were never growing old.

I dragged you up the promontory
To the old flooded pit.
I rolled you from its grassy lip.
I wondered if you’d fit.
When you struck the still of the pool
The sound hung like a bell,
And though I moved to miles away
I couldn’t lose your smell,

And still I couldn’t tell.

I work now at that sorry spot:
The fish-farm in Dinmor.
I gut the fish. I pack the fish.
I wash the fish-farm floor.
The horror waits at complex gates:
Untellable, untold.
And all the while on the Lowing Isle
We were never growing old,
Dear brother,
We were never growing old.

Appears in:
The misery tune [2018]

Video:

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