The Visitor, or Not Quite Flesh by Alex Smith

I never thought you existed. You were a fight
in another room, a moon landing, someone
else’s problem.
But now you’re here. Recumbent flotsam
gone sour on our sofa.

And now, it’s like you’ve been here
the whole time, crouching behind
lonely larder tins, nesting in the
plaster cracks. You make us into you
and your
not quite flesh.

I’d offer you a drink,
coffee I suppose,
but the cups are full with
blister packs.

You were in our bed this morning,
muddying the womb of the place,
warm and
heavy as a sleeping child.

You’re in the strangest places.
I know you’ve watched me in the shower, squeaked
love hearts on the frosted glass, grabbed ringside seats
at our love making, left
popcorn kernels for naked feet to tramp,
each its own
little death.

I’ve caught you in mirrors, whispering
imagined infidelities in her ear,
retuning guitars an octave low, breaking all the
major keys.

Uninvited, you leaf through
books, records, trip trap fingers delicately
dripping scorn
for still-faced ornaments, pronounce our poverty,
pick your teeth with cutlery as she cries
on vinyl floors.

Sometimes, I want to
kill you. Pitch you on your back,
push
a thumb each side of

your pitted windpipe, squeeze
the life and pulse until you
pop
gift air
incontinent
like a skin balloon.
But what’s the point?

Besides the dust, you’ve dislodged
other things,
embryos
we hoped buried.

We keep the kids out now. And other guests as you are
a shy intruder. You hide in petticoats
so they’d never know.

You’re a secret bruise, a
cuff pulled down on
red raw wrists, weak
eternal canker, the moment just before
a door
slams
shut.

We know you will never leave.

What discord then,
that we endure your tremendous
vacuum,
file your teeth
and castrate you
with acceptance.

I wonder,
if we were to
take the shards of us and
carve and mould
some other selves,
would you remember us
and come again?

 

With a foot firmly each side of the Irish Sea, Alex Smith was raised in troubled Northern Ireland during the Eighties. Educated in English and Spanish, his work has taken him to some of the most socially deprived schools in England. His stark poetry has been published in Twyckenham Notes, Tammy, Clear Water Poetry, Bonnie’s Crew, Abstract: Contemporary Expressions, Ink & Voices, and Coffin Bell. He edits at ABC Tales and has a collection entitled Home coming soon through Cerasus Poetry.

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