Wednesday Poem

The Beautiful Lie
Sheenagh Pugh

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.