Not Together Anymore

Witch Hunts

We sit and plan our witch hunt with a cube of PBR. We’re hurting and angry, and Jeff loads and unloads his Glock 17.

You can’t just hunt a witch - they usually combust with their own spell; sting more like bees than wasps. But there’s nothing to stop us branding by association. We’ll seek out the ones who look like witches. We’ll seek out the ones who act like the witches. They may well be of the same stock, and thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.

The subtitles on the television show us the man in the studio telling the newscaster that the deathtoll is still rising, and then he annotates graphs of total death tolls this year. He says the witches will never blend into our western society. Jeff says, ‘All that means is that they’re easy to find,’ as his fingers wrap around the grip of his gun.

Next week in school, there is a recruitment a drive. There are more assertions and graphs, and Jeff’s hands move like those of an addict. There is a hive of hands itching throughout the room. The witch hunt is a grassroots operation, and is in everyone’s best interests. There are rewards to be reaped from the hunting of witches.

We sit and plan our witch hunt with a five paragraph order. We’re ready and eager, and Jeff clutches the clip of his M4 carbine.

##

Spring is Here Again

Spring is when I stand by the water and reflect because I know I can’t face another winter like that one. There are things and people on the surface together. There are burnt orange leaves behind me even though it’s supposed to be the wrong half of the year. I can see rust in a spring. Spring is when people talk about daffodils again, as though they know things or there are even things to know about daffodils. They say, Some shoots are starting to rise just off the drip line of my aspens or A good bulb can last longer than any of us will! Last year, someone told me the real name for a daffodil is Narcissus.

There I am in the water, as well as the things and people. There are ripples which meet ripples which seek to obscure me. My features are dampened, my skin irrelevant. You can’t see beneath the surface. Spring is both old and foetal. I look more human than I might have done for a long time. Spring is watching the world pretend to change.

There is Narcissus on the bank, someone might say, come early this year.

##

In the Waiting Room

As far as I could tell,
the father was sitting on the bathroom chest of drawers
talking to the upside-down dog in the bathtub
whilst his wife was doing a good job of balancing
the television on her head to entertain a child
who was asleep on the fridge.
They were all white
except for the baby on the roof
who I guess might have been Indian.

They called the child's name, but she wouldn't move.
The father tried to make her move,
stepping in between her and the doll's house,
but she got gripped the table and screamed
Why do I have to go?
And the father said
You're sick, Daisy
and she burst out crying and then I said
It's okay, Daisy, I'm sick, too
but that made her cry harder
and I guess I kind of laughed a little
even though I shouldn't have
and then the doctors took her away
and shortly after they took me, too,
but not before the baby was shoved through the window.

##

Just Like I Said

In my parents' garden there are two trees
and they're wrapped around each other,
tied together like fingers crossed in hope.
My mother told me over the phone she was worried because
one of them was growing these weird spots,
and she asked me to come home and take a look,
but I told her I’m busy and I'm too many miles away
with a car which only starts if I ask it nicely,
and I don't know anything about trees anyway.
I said the spotty one will probably go bad or die and then
we can get rid of the dead bark and the other one will
still be fine. And, yeah, it's a fun double-tree
or whatever, but I'm sure you can still sit under
the one on its own when the sun comes out and read your books.

It turns out I do know something about trees.
When I came home in the summer I found my mother
sitting in the garden under the untangled tree
which was surviving just fine without the other one.
It seemed to look a little thin,
and you could see where the other one had been
hacked off it, but it was still alive
just like I said.

##

Around a Bonfire

People on my left are trying to relate hindsight speculation about the public’s attitude in historical times of turmoil to today’s context, progressing from civil rights to the rise of the Nazi party with no signs of slowing down, and people on my right are talking about the importance of social networking within academic and business communities. ‘If you don’t climb those ladders,’ someone says, ‘you’ll find yourself sliding down the back of a snake.’

I’m not engaged in either conversation. I take a long sip from a beer someone has given me. There’s a thrush perched on a branch of the lilac tree and I wonder who or what he’s looking at and the lilacs are just coming into bloom and they’re fluttering in the same breeze that stands the hairs on my arm to attention and each of the logs on the teepee fire is a flaming rib hiding a heart of molten gold which had, until now, been missed.