In the late afternoon,
I strode up to the porch
sheltering a heavy oak door
fortified with brass,
bearing a heavy mortice lock
with key hole wide enough to admit
a slender mouse or the gaze of a snooping eye.
It stood ajar; a grudging invitation,
so I pushed through into the cool interior
where shadows rested in vacated pews.
I breathed the stone-chilled air,
admired the altar’s lavish robes
and lingered in the shower of light
bursting through the main window,
spilling colour onto timeworn flagstones.
Breaching the simple tranquility of the Lady Chapel
I could not help but pray.
No clock or candle stood
to mark the time I stayed in contemplation;
listening to the silence
infiltrated by calling birds
and the creak of heavy oak,
the distant hum of the village
and the clunk of a bolt dropping,
footsteps vanishing down the path;
a prelude to my own,
retreating back down the deserted aisle
bathed in the monochrome light of the moon.
I do not hear its single foot
slip beneath my bed,
turn dust into silver
and make a soggy doily
of last month’s gas bill.
But the morning sheds light
on its nocturnal wanderings
charted in dry mucus,
its glittering autograph
scrawled across yesterday’s paper.
I set mouse traps with lettuce leaves,
surround my bed with half-empty beer glasses,
scatter pellets like deadly confetti.
I sleep well for a week
then find a survivor;
inch long and mossy green,
relaxing by the radiator.
It’s then I notice the leafy odour,
and the rug; tacky underfoot.
I dare not look beneath the bed
but lie awake, ear to the mattress
At dawn I start to drift
and sense the bed being lifted
on a thousand slithering backs,
doors sliding open, and the morning air;
cold and sharp against my cheek.
He plays all day
in a yard the size of a twister mat
dribbling the ball on the same spot,
rolling it up his arms, down his spine,
letting it fly free then hooking it back
while his shadow tries to tackle.
His hands fly back and forth,
The ball pounds the same spot
like a drum roll,
a pneumatic drill
an aeroplane propeller whirring
The ball becomes weightless, maleable,
a mirage, an illusion;
moving under the power of a sorcerer,
defying gravity, obeying its master.
Only when the streets fall silent,
the neighbours yell,
and it grows too dark to see the small cracks
forming in the concrete
does he leave that yard the size of a twister mat,
with no room for a hoop.
Having never done a stroke of work
or had a day of sickness in his life,
he could not fathom the growing pain in his chest,
his ribs tightening around his heart
until the agony drove him to bed and a restless slumber.
Waking later in the grip of a seizure
he put his hand to his heart
and five ribs clothed in fresh skin
took a hold and clasped tight
with crude joints until he passed out.
Running through dark terrain,
tripping over sharp rocks,
his mind tore through nightmares
until a dim light began to grow
and the ground became soft and warm to the touch.
Half sleeping he ran his hand over the limb draped over his chest
caressed the supple skin over smooth curves
until a sigh aroused him.
Turning to the figure at his side
he met her gaze, and when she kissed him
her lips tasted of sunlight.
Against odds of more than 99 trillion to one
a man fell against a wall whilst drunk
and passed straight through.
He awoke hours later unable to remember how he got there.
These things happen.
Fish rise from the sea bed to quote chapter and verse,
Corpses re-awake briefly in the morgue when no one's looking,
The car keys you thought you lost turned into a clump of moss
you never noticed wasn't there before.
These things happen.
So why marvel when a prophet's face appears in a fish finger
or long lost relatives are seated together on a plane?
In Russia scientists have dummies propped against walls,
and furniture sealed in rooms under surveillance,
waiting for it to move, change shape or combust,
waiting for that moment of improbability.
And when it comes they will know no more
than that man who went home to nurse his head
and never found his phone,
which fell from his pocket on the other side.
The Sound of One Leg Walking
I am woken every morning
by the purposeful stride of a well-made shoe
swiftly passing my window.
Each step sounds a click,
sharp and steady as a metronome.
The alternate step is as pronounced and punctual in its absence,
a silent echo to its heavy soled counterpart.
One time I woke early and wheeled myself to the window but dozed off,
waking just in time to see a leather clad heel vanish round the corner.