Tunnels Through the Head

lapwing a lapwing standing on one leg
behind the strand and throwing its voice you
found an egg cracked and mottled like the new
moon at the end of the garden who knows
who you might be skulking face at the glazed
front-door preferring not to open to
the postman your mother or you now she
has died and you resemble her letters
piled up and unread would you be wanting
anything from the village greet no one
red-faced priest who gave you sweets as a girl
but mutter mutter to yourself in a
thin shrill voice its edge like the lapwing’s egg
in your palm and cracked against your fingers

the mountains from the bedroom window smooth
are all breasts and pimples sharp are old teeth
you feel their breath on your neck father old
stony face back from the quarry tramping
decades of dust over the kitchen floor
in his boots from pebble-dashed house-front to
pebble-dashed grave by way of a dusty
solicitor to my only daughter
I leave this unfinished business of dust
not dispersed but thickening in the air
I leave these windows uncleaned old sealed tomb
of a house a stone through the window stays
where it falls grey granite veined with ghost tides
gone out to whispers of I leave I leave

or your voice shrapnelling down the phone with
fuck you screams old bollocks face screams I know
your game I ask you come back ten minutes
later and still droning on filthy stuff
never heard the like and the poor doctor
trying to call who’s there get off the line
I’ll have the Guards on you screams hang up go
stand on the beach where the little terns nest
gazing off towards the tunnels through the Head
the marvels of Victorian railway
engineering are we reduced to this
station gone an optional stop and a
woman prone by the boulders seen from
the train window a crow dead in its feathers

now shrill now near-mute do not adjust your
volume how must I strike you averting
your face in the laneway unstoppable
flow of over and over the old tune
father daughter hand in hand to the sea
again scatter of bay lights beckoning
hurry home through the long grass the back field
do you have playmates not today’s little
miseries ringing the broken bell and
scattering chased from the garden crowing
exultant minions of scavenge rattling
the door-knob quick re-enter the eggshell
are you an excitable girl giggling
at the long decades ahead still unspoiled

or flat on a bench laughing at nothing
when asked to move on the accused began
to abuse passers-by in colourful
terms women expressed concern for get to
hell or if not laugh stony-faced blank whole
days without speaking to anyone pick
through the death notices he was no good
down the hatch with him faint rumble of bells
in the morning funeral masses of
broken glass shit sick and blood on your floor
or other days the floodtide in the head
stops eerie calm and the blue flowers blow
on the lane where donkeys ate your apples
such stillness have you a child is it you

does it shriek mutter cry unheard at night
your tale repeating you wake to its words
on your lips like finding the bathroom tap
running brown a pigeon dead in the tank
a rat in its juice the bathroom has no
mirror what must you look like imagine
observed or try the glass sliver you keep
in your bag never the whole wreck seen at
once eyes cheeks straw-wisps of hair a face in
anagram where might it ambush you next
in the butcher’s window ruddy old side
of beef for the carving always the same
small shock of the pursed mouth turned away in
quick who’s there turn away now confusion

memories are shredding what clings on all
starting over to shrieks and mutters of
out and away with you down the road in
rags and disgrace and the clank of your thin
plastic bags between the high hedges and
over the stones past the trains and low tide
will it stop here where only the bright stones
and the sea all bare and glitter the sun
on the tunnels through the Head where once but
these days no one but me father coming
and going where only a heron’s eye
makes me out and shutting is gone in the
warm close dark is this where you’re taking me
far faint last light drowning are we there yet

Project Details

  • Date September 17, 2015
  • Tags Tunnels Through the Head