after The Abominable Dr Phibes
Once you’ve redone your face –
sat before the bloody canvas
flinching under glass,
stitched the quilt of jowls,
broken in the nose,
napkinned the ears,
working only from memory
– and worn it to church, worn it
like a carnival mask,
it’s hard to know where the making ends,
hard to believe
in permanence of any kind.
And once you’ve learned to mimic
the creak-wind of your own voice –
chiselled and sanded the vowels,
counted the stops,
finetuned the range –
you find the need to speak at all
is strangely faded.
A whisper will do.
from there it’s natural as breath
to turn the town, the city, the world
on your secret lathe, to refuse
fashion a brute organ
from the half-torn hulk of it,
and play the thing you’ve forged
until its music
drowns out the sea.
Anything can be wrecked or restored
by a stripping squall, by a storm
of minute and delicate jaws.
No need for books. You’re no Prospero,
just a joiner moonlighting as stage magician.
The girl you’ve sawn in two is only
halved like you
and the key that’s hidden
is hidden in the heart, and the heart
is being lowered ever downward.