More life-in-death


My family and I,
locked in the hold,
sit on faded
church-like carpet
scabbed over the rivets
in the cold steel floor.

There were no portholes
but the seven of us
felt the waves
rising, falling,
across uncertainty.

The dark corpse of the dog
was the only source of stillness;
his cool eye-sunken head
steadied my mother’s lap.

We were waiting
for something,
not known but felt.

There was a kind
of nauseous tension,
the kind that accompanies
the insomnia that comes
at three in the morning
when you cannot contemplate,
much less believe,
the promise of dawn.

After some timeless time spent
at this pained game of waiting,
the solid wall before our faces
trembled, the very implacable
atoms thrumming with a sound
that was also a light.

That first streak, undeniable,
that defines the trees
in more real places,
and I heard the voice
that I had long been waiting for,
but could not believe.

‘Make ready yourself,
the King’s Dogs are coming!’
And so they were.
But these were not corgis.

Lions, they were, golden
and hard beneath
their bristling fur.

Their breath was hot
against my face, their skins
were hot as poured metal,
their eyes were deep and wild.

They sprang across
our legs and filled
me with a great thirst
for dancing.

The dead dog
on my mother’s lap
sprung up, his once
blind eyes blazing,
dark pelt smelling
of burnt wire and roses.

He did the dancing
that I could not manage,
leaping at the heels
of his masters,
celebrating a reality
that rendered us dust.

He followed his lovers
through the gap in the wall,
into that light, looking more
like a wolf and less like a dog
with every moment of joy.

And just like that,
the vision ended,
and we were clapped
back to that place
which we had never
completely left,
locked in the hold.
Waiting our turn.


About Bethany W Pope

Bethany W Pope was named by the Huffington Post as ‘one of the five Expat poets to watch in 2016’. Nicholas Lezard, writing for The Guardian, described her latest collection as 'poetry as salvation'.....'This harrowing collection drawn from a youth spent in an orphanage delights in language as a place of private escape.' Bethany has won many literary awards and published several collections of poetry. Her first novel, Masque, was published by Seren in 2016. Her second novel, Ordinary Lives: The Ballad of John and Mary, was published in 2018. Follow her on Twitter @BethanyWPope

Posted on May 16, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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