The Beautiful Lie
He was about four, I think… it was so long ago.
In a garden; he’d done some damage
behind a bright screen of sweet-peas
– snapped a stalk, a stake, I don’t recall,
but the grandmother came and saw, and asked him:
“Did you do that?”
Now, if she’d said why did you do that,
he’d never have denied it. She showed him
he had a choice. I could see, in his face,
the new sense, the possible. That word and deed
need not match, that you could say the world
different, to suit you.
When he said “No”, I swear it was as moving
as the first time a baby’s fist clenches
on a finger, as momentous as the first
taste of fruit. I could feel his eyes looking
through a new window, at a world whose form
and colour weren’t fixed
but fluid, that poured like a snake, trembled
around the edges like northern lights, shape-shifted
at the spell of a voice. I could sense him filling
like a glass, hear the unreal sea in his ears.
This is how to make songs, create men, paint pictures,
tell a story.
I think I made up the screen of sweet peas.
Maybe they were beans; maybe there was no screen,
it just felt as if there should be, somehow.
And he was my – no, I don’t need to tell that.
I know I made up the screen. And I recall very well
what he had done.