2 Jan 2022
After Edwin Morgan
You are not the delicate nightmare I carry to the point of fear and wake from.
Your arms are heavy on my shoulders, obscene piggy on my back.
I bear your bestial weight like I would a weekly shop, wood for the fire, a childhood memory.
Your quick sharp heel is a spur; your breath, a fiery draught on my neck.
I sense you whispering, but your words are lost to the wind.
It doesn’t matter. Every day you say the same. Every day you say the same.
I cling onto your ankles – the sick baby I birthed in the night of terror.
You turned me inside out. The streets were thick, the shadows had eyes
and all of them were the same. You asked me to stay with you
and I said Yes. Your howl was a bridge.
Your howl could bear the weight of us if we chose to cross it
from this world to the next.
Nights are cold. We snuggle close, I tell you how we came to meet.
I’m tired of telling the same story, over and over, but it soothes you.
You curl up, close your snake-like eyes, your crown-like crest glittering under stars.
Your sinewy skin glows. I think I love you, Demon.
When you wake the sky will be pale. You will shatter the ice.
Routine is comforting, though safety is a kind of emptiness, emptiness a kind of dread.
The miasma of the world is seeping through the cracks.
I paint over it, pretend I am good, that nobody will know any different,
but the scent sticks under my nails.
Shh you say, holding my fingers to my lips.
We are made of darkness. Isn’t everyone?
Behind the poem...
The first line of this poem originates in Edwin Morgan’s Glasgow Green, but the eponymous character comes from his 1998 collection, Demon. Although I have changed aspects of Morgan’s demon, I knew he was just what I was looking for when he claimed, 'My job was to rattle the bars.' I was in the middle of writing a sequence about a past relationship, and I was searching for a way to explore the problematic, confining emotions that accompanied my memories of it. In Morgan’s demon, I found I could personify the associated fear – and in so doing, transform the narrative.