A Deletion

Don Paterson

Ruth, I can’t believe none of them knew;
on the other hand, it’d only take a few
to -ectomise it from the lexicon –
and what brave soul’d report that it had gone?

(Lady: ‘I was pleased to note the lack
of filthy words in your most admirable work.’
Dr Johnson: ‘Yes, indeed Madame;
I’m pleased you took the time to hunt for them.’)

More likely, surely, that they would have missed
that selfish little organ off the list
in pure spite: let us try to picture him,
the lovelorn wretch in the scriptorium,

sobbing in bed, wanking in the cloisters,
all his sour hours, days and weeks spent counting
his disappointments like a paternoster,
or like the fading optimist, his bar-bill mounting
with the broken shells of all his pearlless oysters.