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Aug 2020
The bounders are saying that noon is coming early today,
And that we should retire before the sun is at her highest.
They tell us to lock our doors tight, and to throw away
Any desire to open them again, at least until
The bounders’ wives come knocking early the next day.
Strangely, they warn against closing our windows
Instead they state that they ought to be kept feebly ajar.

But I can’t sleep with an open window anymore.
The village doctor, who dresses in suit and tie
But likes to lie and speak rather astue, says it’s due
To some scar I acquired fighting the morally confused.

Every Wednesday, when I go to meet the ‘doc’, he
Assures me that he has some kind of qualification and
Always says not to worry about the specifics (or
His motives) as they would probably go over my head.
He starts our hour asking about the terror in the air
And the echoes of shriek-filled nights, and whether
They still remind me of that summer on the front line,
Without fail, and without remorse I always reply;

“Lovers sleep because we (the
Buoyant folk) gave our souls,
Our limbs and our speech, and
Now we live with these deep
Aches and fake laughs. These
Are what we gladly deserve”.

The words leave my mouth at a crawl, and
Take a miserable five minutes to complete.
The rest of my time at the quackery (this is what
The wife use to call it) is spent ironing
Over my other, less obvious, flaws. The doc
Says they are from much more recent wars,
And that I ought to use his miracle stock
To see if that succeeds in finding the cure.

The wife use to chuckle when I told her of my time
With the quacking man;

“More like barking mad!” she would exclaim,
Always through a snide but warm grin.

Those words always come quickly to mind
When I visit the doc, I shan’t tell him or he’d
Probably prescribe some strange empty remedy.
You see, the wife died a few years ago, not long
After my hate for open windows began. The doc
Thinks i’m over my wife’s permanent leave and
He even believes that i’ve started courting again.
I even told him once of a woman named ‘Claire’
Who would regularly visit my home to cut my hair,
And that on such an occasion we had started an affair.
The doc readily consumed this lie (reminding me
Of why the wife called him a fraud), and I sniggered
Into my elbow crease so he wouldn’t catch on.

The wife sits on the mantelpiece now, watching
Me from above the evening embers that light up
The eerie and solemn nights. I often converse
With myself, pretending the wife still listens but
I know her role was revoked from the world.
Alas, I am forced to play her part but I am afraid
There are few words left now, only mocking
Phrases for the quacking man and the barking mad.
Written by
Tom Salter  19/M/Brighton
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