Please help, my poem is very sick
We can be quiet. Open the door, please. I have a little money, not much, but what I have is yours if you will help me. I have this lotus made of symbols, I have medical ephemera, I have a map of a dystopian city. Please, you may have them all. The soldiers. I can hear a patrol. I beg you.
Oh thank you. Thank you.
Yes, I will follow you. Thank you. Yes, I’m sorry, we are both soaked through. The weather out there, it is like an atrocity of similes. They say they turned the weather against us. Oh, my god, I do not mean to track blood into your floor. I’m very sorry. I gave my boots to my poem. Yes, you see how it limps.
I came to here because they said you still had some supplies, that you gave sanctuary. My poem, you can see, it’s weak. It has paroxysms. It is delirious, it thinks a verbiage is a place where fresh words are grown. It talks about the Verbiage the way my mother used to talk about the Garden of Eden. It is so sad. But not beautiful-sad. Just depressing-sad.
When I touch its skull here, I can feel a softening. Yes, that’s right. No, almost spongy. And sometimes, there’s a smell like cooking tin. Do you know what that is? Have you seen it before? Can you help us?
We were staying in the Radio House but we fled when the susurration became too vicious. The facilities are wretched there, it’s a living hell. Do you know what happens when hundreds of poems are crammed into a space meant for sixty, seventy? Yes, I see by your face you can imagine.
The whole building was like a voice-filled belch. The walls were encrusted with images. Crusted over. Flakes would drop into the soup they gave us, if you could call that dishwater ‘soup’. My god, the number of daffodils-in-spring and barren-wasteland-wherein-I-watch-my-wasted-kingdom that I almost swallowed. The one-liners, I – god – forgive me – just let me sit – my god –
I’m sorry. I’m just a little nauseous. No, please, I’m fine. A few breaths. Ah. Haaaa. Aaaah.
Oh, this? Please don’t concern yourself about it. It’s not too much blood, it’s not so bad. It’s not all mine! Ha ha. I tried to store some of these fragments against my heart, as my professors advised when I was younger. If you feel – here – give me your hand – here – yes, you see, that is a hinge. I had it inserted in the transpyloric plane. It bleeds from time to time, the surgeon was drunk and perhaps not even a qualified surgeon. He wept over the ether.
No, thank you. I can walk unaided. No, I’ll carry my poem.
We will take whatever you feel able to give us, and we will be grateful for it. We are so grateful. I forgot to mention, I have some stone coins, a few fortunes made from wax and meat… If you have a use for these they I will gladly offer them to you.
What is – do I have to wear the blindfold? Does my poem have to be blindfolded too?
No, I – no of course, I quite understand. Yes, please, go ahead. I’m sorry. I’m on edge. One of the patrols almost caught us on the way here. The lieutenant had the blue, blue eyes of a literalist. His mouth was so grotesquely chaste. I saw them stamp a sonnet into the ground. The pavement turned revolting colours.
No, I’m sorry, please blindfold me. It won’t do the blindfold any harm to be cried on! Ha ha. Ha. Oh.
My hands are full, but perhaps if you took my elbow and guided me…
Are we going downstairs?
The air is very cool here.
I should have said, my poem had not had much to do with mirrors or bodies of water. I’m sure it won’t harm it but, I ought to ask, will there be…? No? Oh, good. Not that I object to the reflective-emotive, you understand. It’s just not my school. My poem and I observe certain stringencies, perhaps it is old-fashioned –
Is that your hand?
How can that be your hand, I feel both your hands. Who is in here with us? Who are you?!
Help!! Help!! HELP!!
Ka Bradley is an assistant editor at Granta and Portobello Books and doesn't understand how biographies work.