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Tom Nolan
Driving Home


The line of western hills that we could hardly see for rain,
The cluck of gears resounding in the stifled condensation,
The road that made its way beside the flooded eastern plain
Could only half distract me from that bitter conversation –
The friend that we discussed, I hadn't heard his name in years
And the water on the windshield was as close to me as tears.

For now I came to think of him, the memories were vivid:
A body big beyond its years, a bucket of blond hair,
An endomorphic wobble, a complexion raw and livid,
And most of all the sense of something waiting in his stare
For adventitious pleasure of an exquisite unfitness
That I could scarcely guess at and that you were forced to witness.

And though I'd had no sympathy with his depravity
Nor ever been attracted to the threat he represented,
And though his dogged appetite went after you, not me,
And followed in your steps till your integrity relented,
I none the less anticipated much that you disclosed
And brooded in the consciousness of having been exposed.

How readily I understood that maniac perversion,
The reflux of his anger and the heartburn of his lust,
The hunger that impelled him to exertion on exertion
Yet never reached repletion nor relapsed into disgust:
I wanted to reject him like a compromising demon
But recognized as mine that smell of excrement and semen.

With all the willed indifference of selfish adolescence
I'd failed to meet his menace or reciprocate his smile,
But now that I was old and he was dead I felt his essence
Flow through me with an urgency that wouldn't brook denial
To leave an apprehension of complete humiliation:
His darkness realized anew in my imagination.

Had you felt something similar and did you feel it still:
The virulent infection that invades a kindred soul,
That mocks at moral scruples and dethrones the sovereign will
And wrests the spirit's innermost retreat from its control?
I might have broached the subject, but the truth is I was scared
To bring to your attention the indignity we shared.

I limited myself to the expected observation:
His villainies were risible, his wickedness small beer,
His menacing allure a music-hall impersonation –
The 'innocents' whose honour he'd disposed of with a sneer
Were well-respected men by now with families to look after
And viewed such small misdeeds with equanimity or laughter.

And there we let the matter rest. The rain had done its worst;
The road began to wind inland, the scrub gave way to trees,
The atmosphere of home in which we'd soon be re-immersed
Grew strong as we drove southwards: it reclaimed us by degrees
And put us back together as the afternoon wore on,
While he sat still inside us and pretended to be gone.

Tom Nolan    10.05.2009      Druckansicht  Zur Druckansicht - Schwarzweiß-Ansicht     Seite empfehlen  empfehlen

Tom Nolan