They're new... or are they?
She hasn't noticed them before.
An effect of light perhaps...
or looking through the candle flames.
But no, they're there. They're plain enough.
Maybe he hasn't shaved...
Strange, long blond hairs...
but not enough to stop her eating -
the mackerel pâté clearly to her taste.
Bob - prospective partner - unaware
of this new interest of hers... he, too,
eats on. Is unconcerned, for what could spoil
a night like this? Concern
first rears its awkward head
when his is turned to ask the waiter
for... she doesn't catch.
But what she catches is the long cheek bone
and lengthy nose. Imagination
does the most unlikely things at times.
She cannot figure why
she hasn't seen these things before.
Begins to drink more seriously, more
than is her habit, asks the waiter for
another carafe of the same.
the Bob she'd thought she'd known
has slipped behind a mask-like Bob -
now tearing at his venison with long, sharp teeth.
She isn't looking now, has turned her face away,
doesn't see saliva running down, pooling on
the tablecloth. Doesn't see the thickening hair,
the subtle change of colour, the re-set eyes -
all of which, supposing that she had seen, she
would not have found the means to tell
the essence of it all. So steadily she does not look,
will not be drawn. He, of course, believes he has
offended her - How could that be? He'll get
her home. They stand to go. He cannot stand,
is bent, his spine aligned along a horizontal plane.
The car is parked a few blocks off. She tries
to take his hand, believes he is unwell. The hand
will not be taken. The palm is a soft pad,
the fingers four, the nails more pointed than before.
She can't be sure... nor we. All we can say is that
she never made it to the car, is found next day,
a not-quite-musky smell, almost like canine sex,
hangs in a cloud above her form. They'll say
she has been savaged by a dog or fox - maybe
by dogs or foxes - but who among us can be sure?
The moon petals the sea. Rose petals the sea. Stone sea. Stone petals. Rose petals of stone. Stone rising before me. Sea moves. How moves...
It all depends, you see, how you go about it. And that I cannot tell you, for that will be dictated by you and by you knowing your friends...
extract from the poem Koi by John Burnside All afternoon we've wandered from the pool to alpine beds and roses ...
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