Fantasia of the George Szirtes poem 'Travel Book'
The voyage out begins in bathrooms where
fleshy girls in bubbled water
sink back, serenely considering skin-care
and diet routines to make them tauter.
But all hot things grow cold
and their silly putty skin
reminds them, they're growing old
slowly blotting out the bathroom porcelain.
This one sighs like a city
and watches her fingers clench and unclench
instead of her breasts, which are quite un-pretty
as two avocados freckle drenched
with vinegar. She wants to be given a room
which is only hers; she'd like it to be pink as a womb.
She'd like you to look only, inside her pink pod womb,
where the walls like chewed cheeks, are dented with the brains
of mirror twins. One twin makes an amino promise to be a home
and tries to keep its tail plane
umbilical string, between its feet,
out the way of the other pink prawn,
who although, already has plans to screaming excrete
in to the world, by the time he's born,
will not be breathing.
But now, they are free-wheeling flesh ovals,
padding out their beeswing
skin. To one the others existence will be anecdotal,
and he will search to find a partner
whose hair mirror whorls. It will end in disaster.
Next door the bathwater whorls away disaster. It is an end
of sorts for Claude. She writes down that it's like looking
in the eye of a duck and leaving it to fend
for itself, after sucking
all the fluid from its beak.
She dresses in a shift of drake green silk
quickly sucks a peach
and three glasses of milk.
Her plain plate face, grins
like the post, poker spread across the mat
and a bright red balloon of adrenaline
makes her sneak like a pole cat
which has a sad and beautiful hunger,
and marks her out, as a luck hunter.
The marks of a luck hunter
are on the inside,
but can also be found in the clustered
blue-brown pigments of an eye,
like two keys missing from a ring
or two whales lost deep in sea
guts, they sing and sing and sing
until ship's keels creak
and snap leaving twin timbers
upon which two small prawn babies sleep
with not a whimper
or a clue to how deep
into the voyage they might be.