Paul Archer - photo Paul Archer - poet, translator



High Tables

In a circle of polished shoes, skirted knees,
trousered legs, like in the ring at a circus,
voices like insects, jackals, birds,
spinning round. And then -
'Where's he gone now?' The bigtop
flap of the tablecloth opens, a face like a moon,
'Oh, there you are.'

Caught. Like I should really start to grow up
and know better. And so I did
and the boy slipped inside me, silently
pleading: 'Please may I get down now?',
meaning to slide feet-first
under the crisp tablecloth
to be cross-legged and quiet,
and for the voices of the damned

to drone from above. 'No.' Not now,
not when I'm with these red-faced
philosophers, slashing with shiny knives,
clattering metal onto china,
slurping from sparkling goblets. Not when
she's there with her mascara-lined eyes,
slicing into me, forking chunks
into her blood-rimmed mouth, dripping
grease, and laughing.


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