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!"
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...
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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