It entered creation as sudden as angel
or injury – the stacked letters of io, a tower of fire.
Already it is intimate with bishops, philosophers,
flouting borders, stowed in the peppered tails
of sentences. It infiltrates vaults, prisons,
the bedrooms of kings. I have tried to resist
but it steals from my nib, its saucy eye
rippling in candlelight, dodging pumice
and knife. Mr Smythe disapproves, names it
a feminine indulgence, the want of self-restraint.
Like Lord Allwright’s secretary in greeting,
his hand travelling the road of my spine.
That tap on my rear that made verticals
govern my dreams. At night, I see vellum
with one symbol for sheet after sheet,
inscribed in blue light. My ankles vanish
and I exist, suspended, above my rounded feet.
I am always at the end of terraces, waiting
till I’m near him again, recover my form and can say
Here I am – a hot fountain in the garden
of language. The scratch of the vanquished,
those undone by the world, staring back
at the hand that shaped me, astonished.