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Two New Poems by Chris Edgoose

The Tiger in the Garden

 

The tiger in the garden must not be seen,

her largeness inside the rhododendrons,

 

still as night the shadows of those dark

green leaves, her growl behind the breeze,

 

the heavy hang of her tail, the hollyhocks,

her saliva the slug trails on plant pots.

 

She prowled a world of delphiniums,

where blood was the tongue of the black orchid

 

and liquid the fetid meat of wild garlic.

This was a jungle of cat-root and marrow,

 

hydrangeas, it must not be seen,

we must look to the filaments between

 

thistle-crowns, speak only of airy, silvered light

touching down on dandelion-seeded lawns.

 

Not Ghosts

 

Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living.

Arthur C. Clarke

 

At first it may look like a photograph

of Victorian children in the shoeless

squalor of some back alley in Shoreditch

or Bethnal Green but no.

                                    This little gang

with their lost expressions and speechless mouths

gaping as though no one gave them a chance

to smile,

         faces fading if you notice

into infinity behind them,

are not the long-since-dead but the never-quite-born.

Their almost-existence comes as a surprise

to existence itself,

                      an unexpected question

asked of a multitude who don’t know

how to answer,

                    the gift a child offers

and then withdraws without knowing why.

Everyone and everything is confused.

But there are ranks here:

                                    proximity to life

brings some into sharper focus and the foreground,

while others are obscured, aborted

in thick cuttlefish ink:

                                here are those

who know where life begins.

                                           And here are those

who don’t. This is where what happened

and what might have

                              intertwine.

Where the never-ending others congregate.

This is where the corpse and foetus reunite

to talk about the ravages of time.

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