Dull, dull hungry cloth-head dullard! Each day
I’m dull, even this ache is dull (though fatal). Each night
I climb on my lover and we ride
nowhere we haven’t been before.
Dull the knife, dull the mirror,
dull each pane of glass around us.
Nothing here is sharp, clear or dangerous,
and even you, my blood’s sugar,
have plummeted, disgusted, out of focus.
Let me stand at the window once more and stare
till the world’s no longer out there.
True world, where are you hiding? Whose crime
makes you hide so? Is it the light yet murderous
force of habit, settling like grime on the mirror,
that lets you slip away? Yes,
the world is hid behind itself, smirking slightly,
as though we’re in a murder mystery
where the killer and the clue are right in this room
and we’re looking (for God’s sake, they can be nowhere else!)
and we can see nothing, so well is everything hidden
as itself. The way I looked at you last night on the floor
and could not see what I saw before…
Open up, true world! I’m banging on
your pane that you might part
or shower down daggers to cut me to ribbons.
I can bear anything but this dull that I am,
unburnished, non-reflective, stupefied, numb!
This cloth I’ve somehow spread over the world —
when I turn back from the kettle,
may it be whipped away: reveal again
the morning laid out like a shining breakfast table
with as many places as there are appetites
for this day about to — truly — begin.
(born September 23, 1951 in Bannockburn) is a Scottish writer. He studied philosophy at the University of Edinburgh and is a former Glasgow University Writing Fellow and Scottish Arts Council Scottish/Canadian Exchange Fellow. He lives in Orkney and Edinburgh and is married to author Lesley Glaister.
From the anthology Being Alive,
the sequel to Staying Alive,
edited by Neil Astley