Bernard Quest

Time To Let Go

Through this pane of gingham blue
Framed by a cherry red square
Worn bare to dull Sheffield grey
Pitted as tight grapefruit skin
I realise my predicament:
That from monkey bars to ground
Is further than I envisaged.
The big kids are playing here –
Welcome to the jungle gym
And none hears my soft pleading
Or those that do laugh and run.

I hang stretched tight, matchstick ribs
Thinking of our Saviour,
Who one youngish nun, gripped by
A scientific fervour,
Elaborated suffocated
Since his lungs collapsed under
The unflinching desert sun.
Fingers curled against destiny
As hard-set tendons fight with
Packed-lunch-greasy metal.

A fringe still boyhood-golden
Parts to show the surface that
Attends without emotion
Even as a caravan
Of ants, labours across its
Hills of dusty bitumen.
Distant and familiar
A voice like yours across years
Reassures “ it's time to let go”
Gorilla strength, bosomy
And pliant, reaches me down.

Bull-nosed, faded, crazed primrose
Edging tiles, municipal
Hardness grasped with dead-men's fingers
As those inside a crab.
Inside this recessed gutter
Small waves slap and clap and die
Applauding the frolics
Of those who do not hesitate.
The off-key brass instructor
Chlorine sharp echoes across
That too empty space of Basil Spence,
In my defence, ears feign limpets,
starfish hands are suckered fast
against the tide of bullying.

Jutting concrete slats cover
Windows from where I volley arrows:
A hundred harpooned children,
While outside in the street
A bus conductor is pinned
To a linden, surprised meat.
Sigmund looks on impassively
('Sperm Drinker' tagged on his pedestal)
Hands in pockets, dour, Austrian.

Above, my lab-rabbit eyes
Halo sodium-lights with
Fuzzy pink flowers that are
(post-hoc) the perfect aureoles
Of girls sunning by the Rhine.
Again, this voice that steels me,
Stills me inwardly to thrash
Through choppy spume that chokes me,
Grates my nostrils with blobs of
Hot piss and iron filings
Until my hand reaches for
The virginal poolside shoe
(Puma, tied with double bow)
I remember how it said
“It's time to let go”.

These recollections came unbidden,
Vignettes of life, of someone
Scabby kneed in a place
That was occasionally,
If not always, sunny.
To piece together these moments
Funny they're so few, maybe not,
There was so little me, before you.
Fragments of a broken pot
Dug from our garden, my patterns
Emerge from beneath a thumb.

Would that you'd spit inside my head
And wipe it clean as a blackboard
Then together we would chalk
The time line of our future,
Falling motes catch autumn light
One for each day, onlookers
Say nothing, and can but smile.
This final cup of tea in bed
Curses against the tiled floor
Raw tonguing unpolished fillings.

This brew soothes as always and
Punctuates, short pause, before
The voice I know, out-of-sync
With lips that still transfix says
'It's time to let go”.

Poem Submitted: Friday, December 14, 2007
Poem Edited: Saturday, April 30, 2011

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