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Diary: In Guy Vaes’s Footsteps

Iain Sinclair

Two PoemsPolly Clark
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Farewell My Lovely

A really good detective never gets married.
Raymond Chandler

I’d gotten used to that roomy grin,
the face like a bag of facts,
the flank round as a pony’s,
and the way she had of blending in
so badly. But after all,
I didn’t really know her,
neither she nor I being the intimate type.

          I take a slug of something
that I’ve been craving, make a note
of everything that’s gone with her.
But my notes become a list
of immovables: this slouching house,
the sea with a face I’d like to smack,
the loosening sky, fit to drop –

          as I’m dusting the mirror
I glimpse her, smart as a rat
in the company of rocks –
but the day’s slammed shut
and it’s time to file the file.
This is a face to be turned over
for answers from now on.

She’s left nothing behind her
to show what was between us.
Always meticulous,
          I find she’s slipped
like a last dram into my dreams,
hunched at the scene, wiping fingerprints,
knowing that it’s over, that it’s time to go.

Beheaded

I hear perfectly: the thud
onto linen, the strange gasp
like the cry of a premature baby,
just once and then silence.

And I see perfectly:
how my lashes scratch the light,
a hair glittering in shadow,
the winded hollow

where my lips rest.
I still have all my words.
I move my mouth,
like someone begging for water.

Fingers grab my hair
and I soar high above my sad
old body, slumped and tiny.
Tears of pity for it fill my eyes.

They are tending it,
the blank women in blue.
They are washing it,
as if they loved it.

Look, the people are cheering me,
look, they are glad to see me,
now that I’ve been removed
without a single word of protest.

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