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Friday, 25 February 2011

The Hanging Man

Fresh from her triumph at The Biennale,
she's dreaming of ascendency and power.

It's Thursday, and it's Thursdays that she keeps
for him. "This Thursday, you'll know Paradise,"

she'd said - so why should he be late? She counts
the seconds, entertains herself with thoughts

of punishment: slight over-tightenings
of ropes, a twist too far... she knows it works:

it's worked before: a customer too smug
for his own good. She'd known such flames within.

They'd felt like a perversion; smelt like love.
He knocks at last: his double rat-a-tat -

and she had clearly said he was to ring.
Her long lips tighten as the plan takes shape.

Her "Rope World" at Tate Modern changed his life.
Its "Desert After Rain with Stunted Trees" -

and tiny, flowering knots - had brought him face-
to-face with his too long neglected soul.

He'd watched her bind an ox skull there, until
the rope was all there ever seemed of it.

And now he is to be her "Hanging Man".
(He's sold his Jaguar to pay for it.)

Longer than usual, the binding takes:
pride in her craft is tightening each knot.

At last he's ready and she hangs her man -
then is solicitous in checking him.

Visits and absences of equal length,
while he, suspended horizontally,

cocooned in golden thread, breathes ultra-short,
unearthly gasps - the sort that make her pant

for air with him. Her final visit - and
she finds him dead. The paramedics slice

the cords, confirm the fact. Police arrive,
they smirk a bit, then switch. Disinterested

mode takes over, and is then replaced
by earnestness. She's never known them

quite like this before: imploring her to share
with them her loving arts, show them her skills

with ropes to lift the soul to higher planes...
She tells how bonds can slow the blood, close down

the conscious mind, bring visions into play
and deepen prayers. "He was a Holy man,"

she says, a sponge for spite - which she, his friend,
supplied. He'd wanted to evangelize.

She speaks less like a suspect than a girl
possessed of a great passion for her faith -

but quips to interviewing officers:
"A shame for all of us: you can't hang me!"

12 comments:

Jim Murdoch said...

I liked how this developed - wondered what the heck you were offering us at the start - and a great punch line.

Karen said...

What a story! I was mesmerized. Excellent work.

jane.healy said...

I like but not quite sure I ought to

Kat Mortensen said...

I need another cup of coffee for this one, Dave. I'd be a liar if I didn't admit that I'm perplexed.

Kat

Carl said...

I agree with Karen. i was spell bound by the knots you were weaving for us.

120 Socks said...

Interesting and good to fire yourself into such a wild detailed character. Do you know that in the tarot cards, the hangman represents taking time over making a decision,but I doubt that any indecision lingered here.

Tabor said...

I found I liked this. Not too creepy but just enough repetition to show the pathological. And, of course, the twist of humor to end.

Titus said...

Disturbing exploration of the creative process for me, Dave, and the role of artist and viewer - with echoes of serial killer Bobbie Joe Long, the Wests and also the biblical Delilah! Also made me think of the Russian artist Kabakov.
One to really ponder on, yet the flow and story lends it an immediacy too. Coo.

Linda McGeary said...

Hi Dave, this story reminds me of the dominatrix in CSI LasVegas. Although the imagery was that the content was different. I really like it as a story poem. I like the ending. Interesting!

Windsmoke. said...

Many people have died accidentally in the dungeon of the dominatrix by going overboard and getting way too excited :-).

Dave King said...

Jim
To begin with I was looking at the overlap between, for example, art, spiritualiy and sexual activities, but - as you've noticed! - that wasn't quite how it developed.

Karen
Thanks for that.

jane
I'm glad you enjoyed it, but hope you don't think I led you astray.

Kat
Ouch! Sorry if I caused you stress - not the intention!

Carl
I tried very hard to avoid granny knots.

120 Socks
I didn't know that, no. I did consider looking that up and maybe using the tarot, but in the event didn't. Thanks for the info' though.

Tabor
Interesting and useful to know things like that. Thanks.

Titus
Wow, that's an interesting response. I hadn't actually thought in terms of killers, though I can see where you're coming from in the case of Kabakov, I think. I guess I don't know his work as well as you do, though. Must look him up.

Linda
Thanks a lot for that. I must investigate CSI and the diminatrix!

Windsmoke
Perfectly understandable!

Kat Mortensen said...

Oh, I hope I didn't offend you; it's only my inadequacy or lack of knowledge that prevents me from understanding. It is certainly not your writing that is at fault.

Kat