Lucy Mercer

My aunt tells me elderly Halloween stories
of her friends’ husbands exploding
blood all over the curtains.
I cover the holes in my face –

I am filled with extreme worry. 
What if my son one day explodes? 
How can such things be prevented?

If I believed, I could ring up my heart’s 
transparent attorney and ask, God – 
don’t let his body be horribly damaged –

but the souls of that God’s criminal defendants
– mothers – are kept as unopened toy model cars, 
airplanes, lorries and helicopters in His basement.

I walk home.

Outside the sunlit display of ACE groceries and meats 
a man kneels in the street to crack a coconut.
After watching its liquid flying about

he replaces it with the others on the stack, 
the top back on, not perfect, but back on. 
Like a television showing a fire in a fireplace.

Perhaps our desire to order what breaks 
is our best human feeling.

Like Picinelli who wanted to make a Book of the World. 
He found it to be a bundle that grew into
a heap that became a huge, shapeless mass
and felt compelled to dispose this chaos
into some ordered design. 

I am home.

It grows dark.
Trees and streets are a grey gloop 
in the window.

My son’s favourite book is Where’s Wally?
We look at it again, our faces pressed close.

At first it seems Wally is definitely not in the picture, 
and so is unlikely to be found. But he is there
and in the Wally universe each question has an answer:

Where is... the man on a fountain? Where is the keen barber? 
Where is the puncture caused by an arrow? Where is a waiter 
who isn’t concentrating? Where is a dog on a roof?
Where is a boy attacked by a plant? Where is a man coming out 
of a manhole? Where are two firemen waving at each other?

My son is sleeping like a peachstone.

Tonight on the last page, after walking a world, 
Wally in his blood-red hat opens his mouth
and I can see his throat looks the same as mine.

He says – oh I cannot hear him speak:
‘the only satisfactory question is one where the answer 
has already been decided.’

‘Who are you looking for?’

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Autumn 2019

Issue 94

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