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Wednesday 19 September 2012

The Pulse of Life

A plastic football
red and green, sprrrrrrrri-zzles into space.
Is skywards bound. A small boy's face,
a moon, near full, with beams to spare - he
having dribbled it along the street
then let it run into the road
and seen it trapped (half trapped, perhaps)
between the tarmac and a tyre,
then squirted out and higher now
than he has seen it yet, I'm sure.

What is he thinking, the small boy?
Of space ships? Moon shots? U.F.Os.?
A fraction of a second and he rumbles something's wrong,
spots jags in the trajectory?
Then as it falls, the way it falls... something about...
not the way a football falls... a magazine, 
a flier from the take-away,
something that opens out and flaps and jigs from side to side. 
He picks it up and walks away.
It's obvious he's near to tears.

I'm leaving you, dear reader, to decide
if now we're moving to a different narrative -
or simply to a darkening of this.

I must have seen the small girl sitting on the kerb, 
but had not registered the same. She's watched the boy,
she's seen what happened to the ball,
yet now she rolls her doll between two cars -
except it will not roll. She kicks it viciously.
It slides, form lost, a bundle now,
into a motorcycle-sidecar combination's path.
The motorcyclist sticks on all his anchors
and the bike acts crazily: zig-zags, the way 
the football had. It judders to a grinding halt,
the third wheel crushing the doll's head.

He's leaning on his handlebars and breathing hard,
the motorcyclist who had thought a child was running out.
The small girl gathers up the pieces of the broken head,
distributes them around her pockets. Gently cradles
headless dolly in her arms and takes her pulse.
She grins. She'll live, she says, and skips off down the road.


Tabor said...

I must say that this came out far darker than I expected. The last bit of drama would have been some harm coming to the motorcycle rider in his efforts to stop!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Macabre in the extreme Dave but then as an ex teacher, you know like I do, that there is no accounting for what goes on in the heads of some children. Good poem.

Elephant's Child said...

Interesting that the young boy is close to tears while the girl having achieved her malevolent end is satisfied. Food for thought. Thanks Dave.

Brian Miller said...

goodness...you closure hit on some of my deepest fears...the death of children....nice intensity to this one sir....def interesting what the kids are thinking...sometimes i wonder...

Shadow said...

too close for comfort... hubby being a biker, i know how precarious sudden braking on two wheels can be. as for the football, own up now, what happened, surely it couldn't have popped???

Mary said...

I worry about this girl when she grows up. If she is so unfeeling about her own doll, how will she act to her own children! Someday a psychologist will look back......

Ygraine said...

I hadn't realised just how dark the female psyche is!
Are we REALLY so cruel and heartless?
Or is it our instinctive way of surviving our long history of being seen as second-class beings?
Speaking for myself, if that had been my doll I'd have sobbed my heart out.
Guess I've never been the archetypal female - thank goodness!!
I love your poems. They never fail to set me thinking :)

Leovi said...

Very interesting, I think a successful vital pulsations.

Carl said...

You have delivered a commentary on the amount of fake violence children absorb thru TV etc. the resect for life has been dulled.

Helen said...

I agree with Carl's comment .. way too much for kids to absorb today. On the flip side, maybe this little girl will become the preeminent surgeon of her generation? We can only hope. Great write, Dave!!!

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

tremendous series of images..the final "she'll live" is powerful, a great challenge against mortality.

kaykuala said...

A crushed doll can be heart-rending. The impact is long lasting. Nicely rendered Dave!


Dave King said...

Yes, and for a second or two it looked as though that mightbe so.

The Weaver of Grass
Indeed. I have known darker - or thought so, for - as you say - we can never be sure.

The Elephant's Child
Yes, that came home to me very forcibly.

Nightmares stalk us during the day sometimes. Thanks, you echo some of my thoughts.

It was certainly deflated - but may have been to start with, for all I know.

Yes, I agree. It is worrying. It always is. In some the darkness manifests itself. Some see to simply throw it off as they mature.

I don't think it's part of the female nature. My - no doubt biased - thought is that there are more datk boys than girls, if I can put it that way. But you sure wouldn't want to meet the girls on a dark night!

Thanks. Much appreciated.

I think you may well be right in your assessment. It does have elements that are crying "Fake!".

That is a hope to hang on to, I think.

Yes, though I must admit that I had not seen it that way. Thanks for the observation.

It can represent so many things to us. Thanks Hank.

A Cuban In London said...

I quite liked the contrast between the cheery, upbeat tone at the beginning and the more sombre one at the end. Great piece. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Anonymous said...

Crazy! Very interesting tale--so strange how children/people are - and the biker - feel rather sorry for him. You know, Dave, I'm hosting at dVerse and do not have time at the moment to check out your cited poems though I've read Little Gidding a long time ago, and love Billy Collins - I'll try to, but just can't today with all the visiting. k.