|Mark lives in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, UK.|
© 2004 Mark Murphy
We are the public statues, stirring, stirring
in the town squares at night.
We are private beings, moving, moving
through this public space.
We are strangers in the head, clutching, clutching
at our ribboned hats.
We are Ikatha's wings, moving, moving
in the scattered breeze.
We are the Bronte sisters, dreaming, dreaming
of dying, always dying.
We are Anne, Emily and Charlotte, moving, moving
through the graveyard of our father's ministry.
We are the bronchial children, playing, playing
in the grounds of the Parsonage.
We are the breathing ghosts, moving, moving,
breathing and moving in the dark.
We are the human creature, crying, crying,
treading the boards thin.
We are Balzac's cloak, moving, moving
unceasingly in the night wind.
If I could win you with words
I would write, "Come and lie naked with me.
Oh, come and lie naked with me."
And you would give yourself
without hesitation in the lacerated city
of my nearly ruined dreams.
Alas, we do not live by the rules
of happy circumstance. The real story,
sad though it is, unfolds like this:
if I told you in the encroaching darkness
how much the night derides me,
you would only turn your back
and keep the moonlight for yourself.
If I told you that I held my hand
in the flame for you, I know
you would not believe me.
If I told you that I cut myself
in the dark cellars of self-knowing
for all the saints and martyrs
but most of all, for you,
I know you would only shrink back
and think me mad. If I told you
that I had stolen these seconds
from the silence that lies between us
to tell you, you are more beautiful
today than I ever imagined,
you would only recoil and say,
"You cannot win me with words."
the pencil drawing by Laurie Lipton
I take it as the final insult, the final hurt
in a life made up of little else.
I was an ideal woman once, the kind
of woman you only dreamed existed;
and so skinny in fact, so unlike a woman
that men would applaud me on my boyish figure.
I was loved by men for my flat chest.
My pretty little ass. My sweet little ass.
Not a dimple in sight. I was the purest girl
at the disco, a virgin until I was 26.
God, how I was loved by men.
Now, even starlight does nothing
for my complexion. I have nothing
to show but my mother's bitter frown;
a bitter frown with which I view the world.
My breasts have become zealous balloons.
My thighs are ruined.
I look in the mirror, see
my whole tawdry past spread-eagled,
other faces, other bodies, lives assembling
like guilt at the mirror's edge.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, oldest
and wisest of all my mirrors:
my confidant, my window on the confessional,
my window to other mirrors...
Won't you tell me what I cannot tell myself:
that it didn't matter as long
as they loved me for my lily-white thighs.
Won't you tell me
that I am still beautiful -
a beautiful coat hanger woman.
Mirrors in the kitchen.
Mirrors in the bathroom.
Mirrors in the bedrom.
Even the juxtapositioning of mirrors.
Nothing but mirrors.
This is not living.
This is mirror hell.
It has been suggested by chess enthusiasts
that the game is a microcosm of world events;
(white pawn to king's knight four) that
Stale Mate is a metaphor for the east/west
debacle. (black pawn to queen four)
However, some thinkers have suggested
that the game is rather wooden, like bad tragedy
or a king's ransom, (white pawn to king's bishop
three) raising the point, who's fooling who
if all are equally baffled? (black queen
to rook five -- fool's mate)
All poems are copyrighted property of Mark Murphy.
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