It was captained by a midwife who was ninety years of age
She produced a little bottle saying ghoulishly to me:
‘you must try this new elixir, it is all the fucking rage’.
Where the patients all were painters, and they’d each consumed a pin
And when one was called to surgery his friends would gather round
With their brushes at the ready, to paint ‘life beneath the skin’.
I was forced to give up eating and I soon became so thin
That I fled the washy dungeon through a cat flap in the roof.
And I sprinted down the middle (like a batsman up the crease)
And by chance I reached the altar (with the timeliness of spring)
At that moment when the vicar says ‘…forever hold his peace’.
It was clear he was a bastard and that she belonged with me,
So I clambered up the pulpit and I opened up the book
And declared the marriage ‘filthy’ using Jeremiah, 3.
So I grabbed my new fiancée adding slickly ‘stick with me’,
And the armies of relations started fighting as we passed,
Clashing rashly into combat like the closing of a sea.
Which we sailed to Vladivostok through a melted Arctic sea.
In the prow there was theatre, in the stern there was a school
And in all the world was no one who was happier than me.
Is the sound of this adventure as its rigging turns to silk
And the linen of my vessel, in a festival of yawning,
Is dissolving in the liniment like peppermints in milk.
But they will not wait forever in my brothel on the land
And with sand inside my stomach I can row into the forties
Where with haughty little greetings they will shake me by the hand.
And poetry will vanish when I moor between the caves.
And they will not make me nervous or deplete my sense of wonder;
Under muttered cups of Spanish and through stalks of oleander
And the snow beneath the trellis and the donkeys in the moonlight
And the spoons of candied ginger and the thunder and the monkeys
In the cedars and the roughness of the mattress in the night
They will hide me from my sentence in my brothel on the hill
As I stride into my brothel they will play an old piano
(Will they have an old piano? I imagine that they will.)
And the hollows of my spirit will be stuffed with salted cheese;
They will roast me – I will row there like a ghost upon the water
(I will need a box of matches if it’s dark upon the seas.)