Sunday, April 04, 2010

Æthelred the Unready

Sitting cross-legged the legless man let out a scream, a covey of ducks taking flight, skimming across the top of the aqueduct. ‘dare I dare say this is more than I can take!’ ‘shit up!’ said a voice whispering in his ear. ‘up?’ he thought, ‘I dare say I make my commode sitting down’.

Under the hedge
where my father
buried half-eaten corpses
Dead rabbits
sang in the dirt

The summer his da left for good the legless man fell down a well. He stayed in the well for 40 days and 39 nights, rescue coming in the way of a poacher and his ungainly son. Once rescued he cursed his da, shouting at the top of his dirt-filled lungs, ‘may your bowels be uproarious for 40 nights and 40 days!’ His da had good sturdy legs and two bent inward feet. His feet he inherited from his own da, who’s feet were more cudgel-like than simian. The summer he turned eleven his da poisoned a shoebox of baby rabbits, burying them under the hedge behind the woolshed. Æthelred the Unready his friends called him, noticing the flap of skin over the hood of his eye. For his twelfth birthday his da bought him a secondhand baseball mitt, the stitching round the thumb frayed and broken. Undeterred he play catch with his da, his thumb smashed at the second knuckle.

Who’s to say? His own da wore fishmonger’s trousers with chainmail knees and a strop pocket in the back. It was there, scabbard in the back pocket where his da carried his filleting knife. Used it to gut and scale walleyes and groupers. Had a straight-eye for crosscuts and deboning, knee on the tail hand round the neck. Of course he made a mess, oil and flaked scales stuck to his shirt and arm yard. Came home covered in it, flecks and burr-ends spackled on his apron. Not that he minded; next time he’d run the blade sideways through the dorsal line. Keeps a fish afloat, brine gas in the airbladder. Never can tell when its going to explode, yellowy blood all over the north side wall up the ceiling. His da didn’t mind, made a good day’s wage all and all.

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"Poetry is the short-circuiting of meaning between words, the impetuous regeneration of primordial myth". Bruno Schulz

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