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© Helicon Magazine 2019

University of Bristol

 

WORFE

Lydia Aldridge

1.
Submerged, in the deep salt

Water way, way out.
Weeds twisting round my neck

Like the grip of a baby’s hand

And its pinguid, oil-slick

Form dances in the current — 

A morbid waltz.
A serpentine serenade

Slowly caressing that swollen stomach,

A death by distillation.
I’ll stroke those ribbons,
and weave them tighter

 

A Maypole dance,
In darkest Winter
I’ll bring it to the surface,

To face the greats.

 

2.
Dried-out tongues,

Slain on marbled floors.

Some are filed

Between the classics.

 

I’ll stride on,
Through that Great Paradise,

Through Furies
Through Chaos

Come face to face
With Milton himself,

Whilst he alludes to some

Badly kept secret.

To the syntax
To the epic
To the end
Heaving heavy at full stops.

3.
In those coveted cloisters,

Harbouring idols of old

And the faces of icons,
I will look for Alisaundre.

I’ll wash it all
Down the back of my
throat, and let my tongue
rest against the back of my teeth.

I’ll let the taste trickle
Down to settle in my aching

Stomach, and swallow through

My aching throat.

 

Here Greensleeves will play

Faintly as ever, whilst my

Eyes sting loudly,
Staring at the altar.

4.

And when time passes,

The way it always does.

When life’s labyrinths

Smother and choke

I’ll find a river
And follow it,
North to Middle,
‘Till I land in the Worfe.

To resurface there,
Beneath Willow trees
Face down among the reeds,

Breathing easy.