A Separation

Quarrelling voices rise through floorboards
warped by age and shifting subsoil
muffled rearrangements in terra firma
transmuting bedrock to uncertain quicksand.

Fever waxes humid and flickering sleep
conjures a scene in monochrome, where
a stalking form flutters across the viewfinder.

Lurid headlines howl their outrage
at a little girl’s violation and murder.

A map is folded and, away on the Chase
a distance of miles foreshortened to a blink
opens again in a pinched, passed-over place
a copse at dusk; bark, knots and boles
straining imperfections, bend the grain
carve lungless screams in grotesque flourishes
twisted roots into a strangler’s remorseless grip.

In that febrile instant amplified to hours
the conviction is unquestioned.

Until dawn’s fingertips stroke away the terror
every minute is a stride that brings him closer.


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