Straight as a loaded die
beside the ups and downs
in a lopsided house awkwardly
he axes logs in a mismatched
cosmogonic waistcoat and ill fitting
trousers tied up with frayed string
nine planets of his hands
swing the sun’s arc
and his adze loses its sharp end
breaks another window into fractals
he’d recently replaced. “Day
can only improve.” He laughs
Whilst hubby outside dices logs
she dusts, washes and irons,
in a metallurgists scorched
earth leather apron,
beneath ship’s oak trusses,
a hazy orbit of stars and debris
dances round her busyness.
Above, nebulonic britches flap,
pegged to golden string with split ends
between shiphull rib rafters,
as she irons with dark energy
flattens 4d to 3,
2d to 1, grumbles
as what dimwit folded
the material, or thought
taffetta a sensible choice,
curses as a black hole appears,
bawls out sunblinded window “Oi!
Time you did the ironing again!”
As his adze end shatters the window
with a big bang that lasts millennia.
“Any old iron! Any old iron!”
He shouts and his horse whinnies,
as they turn towards the lopsided
cottage and hear the to do.
His cart trundles four wheels
each with a name: Yin and Yang,
Life, Coincidence and Fate
up the old straight track.
The cosmogonic Waistcoat
rocks an unchopped log
like a chair with his guffaws.
His wife in full harangue
raises a meteor like rolling pin
above his head. “Good day kindfolk,”
says the pedlar, as he sweeps
open his coat. “Perhaps,
an ‘I can explain.’ or
and ‘You can still make choices.’
“Your horse looks knackered.”
says the woman. “I’ll fetch
some water and a bit of grain.
Nowt original for sale, again.”
“Tropes are never original,”
answers the pedlar. “It’s why
they’re tropes.” “Ha!” says
waistcoat “You fall for it every time.
Fair yanks your chain o’ being she do.
You’ll not forego supper with us.”
And smartly trips over the log,
Christmas angels the dust,
rises brushes himself down
and his laugh echoes all around.
“I’ve got a ‘Window To The Soul’
that’ll repair your pane,
and a ‘Strapping Young Lad’
to repair the axe. Usual rates,”
offers the Pedlar. “Aye we’ll
pay thee in kind,” answers the wife.
“Here’s your Restitution Soup
with Wholegrain Body of Christ.
Yon horse has chomped his Oats
of Strength and pale of Ocean’s
Blood.” She gives the same
to Waistcoat. “Don’t show me up!”
Simultaneously they pick up
their white napkins, stuff
a point of them down their shirts,
and set about the thick soup
with Welsh Wishing Spoons.
Sup jugs full of deep, refreshing
Blood Of Christ Ale, Waistcoat
dribbles his onto his napkin.
Pedlar lights Waistcoat’s claypipe,
after it sputtered and guttered,
smoke billows around the oak ribs,
mixes with the stars and sunlight.
Both snooze with gentle rumbles,
as the wife clears up, washes pots.
Awaits Season Change when she will
be Waistcoat or the Pedlar.
As Waistcoat and the Pedlar sleep
for three days and three nights.
‘Strapping Young Man’
repairs the hovel’s pane,
with ‘Windows To The Soul’,
the wife works him between her thighs.
She redecorates the hovel,
reorganises the planets and stars,
gives birth on the third day
to a trope called ‘Secret Child’,
whom she places inside an empty
pocket in snoozing Pedlar’s coat.
With snuffles and grunts the sleepers
awake to another trope: ‘a new old world’.
“You’ve been busy,” says bleary eyed Waistcoat.
As pollen floats above the rafters,
roses bloom in the vases, light
explodes through the mended pane,
and the fragrance of wax polish.
“The bishop needs to baptise the earth,”
says the Pedlar his legs stagger up,
“Mine too,” answers Waistcoat as they help
one another out the door. Cool air slaps
their ruddy faces as they wobble,
Waistcoat waddles to a clear stream,
Pedlar to stables.
Their bishops bless the elements.
His horse curry combed and dandy
brushed Pedlar is first to return
to the cottage for a quiet word
with the curious wife. “Wax
polish can be very slippery,
don’t you find? Gets on
your clothes and everywhere,”
from inside his coat he pulls
“Strapping Young Lad”, “Secret
Child.” The wife sighs, “Clever
arse. What is there here for it?
Accidents and bitterness.
Take it to someone as can give
it a life worth living, not random.
Take this too,” Her palm offers
a bright particle with its own light.
“You didn’t nick an ‘Unfaithful Wife?”
“No need. On last Wedding Anniversary
found it in a ‘With Sympathy’ card
from Waistcoat,” she sighs.
“Fools can be wise,” answers Pedlar
examining her bright gift.” I can’t
accept this. It’s you.” She waves
his return of it away with “An aspect, only.”
“I fell in,” Waistcoat sighs up
the old straight track, colours
of his soaked cosmogonic
waistcoat bleed into each other,
he sees the Pedlar at work
on a cartwheel, “Life spokes
got pushed out on way here.
I beg your help with repair.”
They reattach spokes, ‘Work’ and ‘Play’
attach wheel to cart axle.
Exhausted, sit on logs, Pedlar
says “Your wife gave me this gift.”
He shows the brightness in his palm.
“May I try on your fine waistcoat.”
They swap coats. “On the inside
of my long coat is a gift for you.”
This story changes over time. Here
is an older and a newer version
of how it ends.
Waistcoat pulls out the old trope,
Swings the repaired axe with nine
planets of his hands across the arc
of the sun cuts Pedlar’s head off.
Throws the axe through the mended
window. Takes up her iron and strikes
her with it, leaves a black hole
in her head that expands, realigns
the stars and planets, makes
the flowers wilt, spreads dust
over all the surfaces. Watches
the hovel burn as he takes the cart
down the old straight track.
Horse reins in one hand, his wife’s
bright aspect in the other,
and the Pedlar’s gift of ‘Betrayal’.
His wife’s black hole grows, engulfs
the fire, the stables, the logs, all fall
into its tophat. Waistcoat hurries
horse and cart ahead of the hatrim.
Waistcoat pulls out the old trope,
laughs, hugs Pedlar who says
“You laugh even when things get dark.”
“I’d be a useless pool of tears
if I weren’t, ” answers Waistcoat.
They swap coats again. “You may
need this.” Pedlar gives him another
trope: “People can change.”
Waistcoat opens the hovel’s door.
The wife is ironing dimensions,
has difficulty removing folds.
“Yes, I slept with the young lad.
I was wrong. I know what we
have and can’t forgive myself, ”
she says through incandescent steam
that shivers the star pollened air.
“We both grieve,” says Waistcoat.
“The trope of ‘Time is a healer’ helps.
All words are empty gestures,
facile, cliché, not like first love
when sentiment gains meaning.
Let me iron.” She laughs.
“You never do it properly.’
Grabs his hand briefly,
a sunblaze passes through to him.
“I’m sorry. Your creases
need to be sharper, ” she says. He shows
her the Pedlar’s old trope : ‘Forgiveness’