POETRY

The Sacrament of the Water

By

She bit his head off but he had it coming.
He was unfit to live. He had to die.
Blood cakes the calendar. The air is humming.
She tore his head clean off. He had it coming.
The sun is silent and the night is drumming.
The night calls out for Justice. Tooth and eye
Compels this blessed hammer of the Lord
Whose instruments are Fire and the Sword.

Stark night calls out for Justice. Justice answers.
Is she not Justice to the very skull?
Hers is the music moves the shadow dancers.
The eyeless night cries Justice. Justice answers,
Justice whose smoking knife cuts out our cancers,
Binds up the wounds and makes our body well.
She is the Judge. Her Judge’s robes are red.
She bit his head off and his brother’s head,

Then flung the bleeding trophies in the water,
And sported in the sunshine of your smile.
You drew the short straw but her straw was shorter.
She kicked those bobbing trophies through the water.
God and the Right had ritualised her slaughter.
What if the sentence presupposed the trial?
Sometimes the Good reciprocates the True.
Fate spun the wheel. She bet her life on you.

And won: the world in perfect paradigm;
The ravening raven toppled from his perch,
The guilty brothers punished for their crime,
The lovers found, the perfect paradigm.
You two together till the end of time.
She is the Christ. You are her Holy Church.
Your covenant is blood. Contrariwise,
Is flesh, one flesh. And all the rest is lies.

She sits inside her prison of the dark
And meditates on history, and you,
Who, unbrave, braved the terror of the shark.
Inside her blessed hermitage of dark
She meditates the charming of the quark,
Or maybe it’s the taming of the shrew.
The force be with you, now you have the force
Spelled out upon her walls by Samuel Morse.

The poem addresses a boy of twelve whose life has been saved by a child vampire in love with him. The story can be found in the Swedish film "Let the Right One In".

John Whitworth is one of those fattish, baldish, backward-looking, provincial poets in which England is so rich. His tenth collection, Girlie Gangs, was published by Enitharmon in 2012 to international acclaim. Well, Les Murray liked it. And Walter Ancarrow in America. You might also consider Writing Poetry published by A & C Black, one of those how-to books; it has run to a second edition and is pretty good, though he (the poet) would say that, wouldn’t he? He once won £5,000 for a single poem. Listen and marvel.

She bit his head off but he had it coming.
He was unfit to live. He had to die.
Blood cakes the calendar. The air is humming.
She tore his head clean off. He had it coming.
The sun is silent and the night is drumming.
The night calls out for Justice. Tooth and eye
Compels this blessed hammer of the Lord
Whose instruments are Fire and the Sword.