Caution & Betrayal
by Alan Dunnett
[ poetry - december 05 ]
This is the last train because the retreating
track is damaged near Elephant & Castle.
Of course, I have not forgotten meeting
at Waterloo but it is too much hassle
to walk. Paris at this time of the year
is great but I have decided to stay
at home where I will be safe. I shall care
if the power goes off. The British way
is to act normally. I shall make tea,
read a little, catch up on this and that,
go to the bathroom, watch a DVD,
laugh or cry but crucially avoid mishap.
Should you see me in the morning, you will know
that I am well. Meanwhile, the warnings come and go.
Nothing is convenient, he knows not why.
He knocks the dish out of her hands and feeds himself.
Her lips are like insects. What is in her green eye?
Suddenly, he smells beneath the perfume and looks again.
He presses at her shoulders, her whispers cling to his ear.
He knows without seeing that the soldiers are here.
He hits her with his palm until she starts to cry,
hilts his fist and cocks his pistol, one shot only.
Nicely, he asks after the hidden door. This time to die
is not his time, of that he's sure. He cuts her once
to make her choose: she feels by the grate to open the fireplace.
With a foreign kiss, he takes his leave, then without a trace
he turns with the flames and stands at the foot of a stair
that climbs to a cave in the side of the cliff from where
you catch the smugglers going past if you watch with wide care.
The first dark light is dispersed by the sea. Under its roar,
he can hide for a moment. He remembers before,
when he was free. There was a mermaid who sang to the shore.