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.

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