[1934–current, born New Zealand, but spent most of life in England]
I write in praise of the solitary act:
of not feeling a trespassing tongue
forced into one’s mouth, one’s breath
smothered, nipples crushed against the
ribcage, and that metallic tingling
in the chin set off by a certain odd nerve:
unpleasure. Just to avoid those eyes would help –
such eyes as a young girl draws life from,
listening to the vegetal
rustle within her, as his gaze
stirs polypal fronds in the obscure
sea-bed of her body, and her own eyes blur.
There is much to be said for abandoning
this no longer novel exercise –
for not ‘participating in
a total experience’ – when
one feels like the lady in Leeds who
had seen The Sound of Music eighty-six times;
or more, perhaps, like the school drama mistress
producing A Midsummer Night’s Dream
for the seventh year running, with
yet another cast from 5B.
Pyramus and Thisbe are dead,
but the hole in the wall can still be troublesome.
I advise you, then, to embrace it without
encumbrance. No need to set the scene,
dress up (or undress), make speeches.
Five minutes of solitude are
enough – in the bath, or to fill
that gap between the Sunday papers and lunch.
Source: Goodwin, D 2002, 101 Poems That Could Save Your Life: An Anthology of Emotional First Aid, Harper.