The Witness

Original Text: 
The Space a Name Makes (Toronto: Black Moss Press, 1986): 49-50. PS 8587 .U52 S6 Robarts Library
1I have to admit it's a strange feeling
2to blow your wife away,
3he said and kind of smiled.
4The words hooked me -- they reeled me in.
5Something in a woman loves a murderer.
6Sex is the bargain
7we always arrange to lose.
8He plotted the murder for years
9out in the desert with a hand gun
11Each one was human.
12He was back before dark
13for a round of golf with his kids.
14I was the witness listening
15for coded messages from the long-distance
16absence where he lived.
17"I'm going out now," he'd say.
18This may be the night. Stick around
19before he slipped on his orange wig
21to cruise the streets.
22Once he shot through the window.
23He laughed after.
24Hadn't gauged the thickness of the glass;
25the bullet a slain thing in snow.
26The police forgot to check him,
27forgot that a man always wanted to kill his wife.
28I laughed with him.
29The sex was good that night.
30He was charming.
31And deadly.
32I'd learned the art of those moods.
33Sex is death;
34the hot sticky sinking that makes and breaks you.
35Loved like death.
36I watched the bruises swell on the face
37that wasn't my face
38but a child's cowering in a corner
39waiting for the rip of love.
40In that violence at least
41I knew I was owned.
43but that was silly.
44He reminded me of the rules:
45I was the weak one.
46If I left I would die more quickly
47than if I stayed.
48Things made sense that way.
49He was the man in the silk suit
50who came first-class.
51He'd crawled into my body
52looking for his life.
53If he lashed out like a wounded thing,
54he was the hurt one everyone failed.
55Maybe I could save him
56staring out at the world
57across his need.
58But my body was useless.
59Inside something sad was loose.
60It listened and feared and thought
61but was never enough.
62It was ashamed to show itself.
63It deserved to die.
64Then I saw the woman's picture in the newspaper.
65He'd held her like a dog by the collar
66and slashed her face.
67Her broken wrist and hand
68twisted at her side.
69I was outraged.
70Death should be clean not vulgar,
71the necessary death
72of love.
73When I called the police
74I said only
75I never lied. I did nothing.
76Anyway, he wasn't the kind of man
77worth dying for.

Notes

10] Perrier: commercial brand of spring and carbonated water. Back to Line
20] Olds: Oldsmobile (car). Back to Line
42] 292s: a powerful painkiller in pill form. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2004
Special Copyright: 

<b>This poem cannot be published anywhere without the written consent of Rosemary Sullivan or Black Moss Press permissions department.</b>