I. Conception

Contracting space, a bleeding sun

Yellow yoke breaks

II. Gestation

Maggot, prawn,
Feeding slowly,

III. Birth

A hand smoothing down a stained sheet.

Light-filled air, fat as a scream.

IV. Childhood

The pirate kills the ogre.
School walls fall.

V. Adolescence

A secret wish in a secret place.

Policemen stand on blank street corners,

Preserved in the formaldehyde of memory:
Her careless smile,
An overheard phrase.

VI. Early Adulthood

A body stretching by the sea,
Waves calling.

Eyes turn back to the boarded-up parade.

VII. Middle Age

Short nights, long days,
Croissants and coffee.

I can’t remember the name of that place,
But it was very nice.

VIII. Old Age

White eyes in a lilac room.

IX. Death

His lips look like plastic.

A hand smooths down the sheet.

We sit patiently, slightly bored.


This is a new, expanded version of a poem that appears in the collection, The Death of the Bird King. All texts on this site are the copyright of James Knight. All rights reserved.

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