Middle England Cross

by Stryngs

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Xena was a catastrophe of hope:
thought she'd huddle with the Inuit,
carving raging bears on narwhal tusks;
or - with Hail Marys greasing her fingers -
she'd kneel at some desperado's knife.

She'd tango to the midnight crack of pistachios,
and the smell of the distance;
or yet another lover bruising his nylon strung guitar and
streaming urgent, runtogetherwords for her.

She'd flee a drop of yellow-menace spiders
and watch an angelfish flap on the end of a spear,
slapping down on a splintered deck,
making final, awful eye contact.
But at the airport, some canny-eyed crone
took her hand and saw:
a marriage, a mortgage, a couple of kids
and a yellow Labrador.

She thinks of it, often briefly
- like the passing of a car -
but often, like a tongue to a toothache:
not slipping through pools of seal-fat, but
opera, yoga, housework, homework;
the hard work of loving such an ordinary man.

When we meet, she covers the fridge with
pictures of China and Brazil and unknown archipelagos.
She revels in imagined ASBO chic while I
unravel all her alter-egos.

She serves me up her stories:
makes a meal of all her ailments and
the most of minor tragedies,
spicing them up with fists of
crouching-tiger turmeric or a
dash of pepper spray.

She still dreams of separating shoals with
a dagger and a tan,
diving on practised lungs.
But like a pearl,
the oyster is her world.

Her husband changes light-bulbs,
pressing then in like bright little nails,
holding her against her middle England cross.
Just to hear her is to prize her free:
overturn the table,
whistle up a brawl,
open minds with optics and
drown in a beer slick.

Every knight in shining armour rides with me:
with my Indiana-battered hats
and finger-snapping whips;
shaking out a dry Martini laugh;
a John Wayne swagger holstered at my hips.

My jeans are no longer London-faded,
but poison arrow punctured,
and desert serenaded.
Nothing is more potent than a voice being heard.

'There's no time!' she shouts, and
- barrelling over the falls -
we escape
the ransom, The Ripper
The Baskerville Wolf
and two dwarf cannibals.
She still dreams of separating shoals with
a dagger and a tan,
diving on practised lungs.
But, like a pearl,
the oyster is her world.


released May 1, 2006



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Stryngs Hampshire, UK

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