MADAME SASOO GOES BATHING
Mme Sasoo, sombre, but determined
to overcome her nibbling inhibitions
and have the warm Indian Ocean lick
at will about her body, does not undress, but dresses
from ankle to neck in brightly figured rayon
and wears her manly shoes to wade
from shore of drums into the tilt of water
with elbows aloft, all her attention below:
she is not young, but bears herself
with subtle dignity, though her costume clings, grows
as the weight of water starts to rock
against her, and bullies her from left
to right, so she is like a high wire walker
riding out the admonishments
of the deluge, with grim composure,
holding that perfect damask mark
in the middle of her forehead level
over the waves. At which stage, her doubts
regroup and call her back to the shore
where her towels, and Seiko, are safe
but every article of her nakedness
she wished the water could explore
and taste like expert tongues has been
stolen long before she dared to wade.
THE SOUND TURNED DOWN ON HURRICANE GEORGE
The monster is in the bowl. The monster is in the bowl.
The gogglebox plays in silence, and the monster is inside.
You could tickle its tummy through the arc of glass.
The icon hovers on the screen—a finger in a dam.
Like Wagner’s grand ego trapped in a blackened vial
or the lion tamer’s tricks in a few blobs of solder
a hundred million decibels press on the mute:
the set’s all seething molecules—there amongst them,
as if the noisemakers had mislaid the ghost-pipe
down which they were to whistle, George enacts the mime:
that, I think, is the Dominican Republic he picks up
and shakes, and heads out towards the Florida Keys,
where the limos roll over and palm trees bend double.
The Caribbean rises in the tube and squashes flat
its three dimensions to one; poor George,
he wants us to fear him, but is docile in his oubliette
of pixels. He could howl up the flue and no one would
And I thump about in the light that comes from the screen
like any long-shirted giant frightening the boards
with the harmless gasp of cushion soles in the still
among the still rooms among the still plantains
beneath the still listening hemisphere.