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Patrick Chapman was born in 1968 and lives in Dublin. He won the story
category of the 2003 Cinescape Genre Literary Contest in Los Angeles and his
film script, Burning The Bed (2003) was named Best Narrative Short at the 2004 Dead
Center Film Festival in Oklahoma. His poetry collections are: Jazztown (1991), The New Pornography (1996) and
Touchpaper Star (2004) and the fourth collection is due from Salmon in 2007.
Put your feet down in the iron sea.
Allow the silt to sift between your toes.
Watch out for crabs and sharp sea stones.
Let your legs float free, lie back
Into the arms of Mother Ocean. Take
Your head out of the sky and through
The membrane where it meets the water's
Listen with your inner ear. Your heart
Beat in this underworld sounds
Not from deep inside yourself, but from
The deep itself: a pounding in the water
Like the sonic boom in air, each hit
A signal that you've swum below
The range of human hearing, you've dived darker
Than the eye allows the measurement of light.
Now, let water take you on beyond the limit of the tide -
Farther than the shelf and its old ossifying forms;
Past the point where nature fuses atoms into molecules.
Go into the true deep, to that place
Where latitude and longitude diverge,
Where life is not to be contained. In this
Uncharted depth where sea has slipped co-ordinates,
Your body is a bottle and your memory's a message
That may find a breaker of its code.
I will go now to the shore
And watch you take on water.
I will wait and watch for your return
As seahorse or anemone -
Or as a vial, drowning and delivered of the word.
You did not see mine, on the first night we met.
You were occupied, putting your hand
Through my window, not feeling the pain,
Bleeding your wrist on invisible shards
As you opened the frame just a crack for some air,
Letting autumn leaves in from the fingers of trees.
At some point, we made love, or a bungled attempt.
By the morning, your blood had congealed.
Wounded and practical, no broken bird,
You tried often to show me how two falling leaves
Might collide in the rain, on a current, and sail
As one leaf. In the end, winter rattled us loose.
Now and then, subtle scars raise a sign on my skin
That you left more in me than I'd ever let on.
Someone has been murdered on my street.
I'm thinking that there ought to be more clues.
You only ever hear about those
Other places, round the corner:
Stabbing, shooting, drug-related,
Race-crime, sex-crime, gang-crime, booze-crime.
Maura's mother comes to take her
Back to Connemara. We are
Packing up the car with clothes
And boxes full of necklaces -
And someone has been murdered
On my street. It's just been on the news
But there's no sign, this Sunday morning.
Shutters in the shops are down
And church bells are a rumour yet
And people coming home are re-
Discovering their aching brains
And disappointed lovers. Now
The car is full to bursting,
Maura's mother recollecting when
She was a girl in Boston. 'Back then
Everything was hunky dory,
Colour no impediment.
My background was a calling card.
'But what was then an Irish town
Is now a Polish neighbourhood.'
She starts the car. Her daughter slips
In front and waves goodbye and they
Are gone. I cross the street for home.
It's Sunday morning, calm and mild.
The shutters in the shops are down
And church bells are a rumour yet
And someone has been murdered on my street.
2004-2005 the Dublin Quarterly--to see familiar things with unfamiliar eyes!