“Learn to swim, learn to swim, learn to swim, learn to swim” – Aenema, Tool.
Shh. He’s here again.
A knock at the door, a rap of the letterbox.
His face through the dark, like the child in Woman at a Window,
Like Cathy on the moors.
She watches him with rapture, with dread;
With longing, with fear.
She wants to hold him tight;
To keep him at arm’s length.
And the singer waits at the side of the stage,
Not sure he’s still got it in him.
One more time; this time,
Waiting – the ghost train opening its doors moment.
And when the music starts, the father watches his son,
Feels the heat of the crowd. He hardly knows him.
But the crowd think they do. In their fervour, their worship,
His son is a stranger. A lost boy.
And Baphomet smiles. Winged hermaphrodite;
A torch between his horns, a pentagram.
On his stomach, around a stick, two serpents writhe.
His mother thinks of other things. It’s easier that way.
Of the beauty of a December sunset, a kitten’s wild vitality.
The uncompromising rhythm of a train, of a cobweb forged in ice.
And the music is ferocious, howling, visceral.
The singer stands in the maelstrom, consumed by elation and doubt.
He wonders when success is repetition only.
It’s nearly over, thank God it’s nearly over.
He can’t do this again; sad, little bastard he is.
But they love him, they love him, they love him.
No-one knows him.
And the father has seen the look in his children’s eyes.
He’s got to get his shit together, toughen up.
Keep things tight.
When the son he barely knew, the son he loved, called because he needed him,
He didn’t know what to say.
In the please God, make it end phone call, he filled the gaps.
Chin up, you’ll be fine, come and see me when the weather’s better.
Later, in the pub, he knew he didn’t even mean that.
And Baphomet looks into the distance.
His expression - not kind, not malevolent.
A description within human understanding would reach for the word, neutral.
His mother washes his body.
She’d done it when he was a baby, she’ll do it now.
The action holds no fear.
Someone tells her about the piskies,
Of Joan-the-Wad leading travellers astray,
Of unbaptised children’s souls and changelings.
Perhaps my son was a changeling, she wonders.
And when his father got the phone call, he’d walked for hours.
Through the town, the market place, by the river,
Fuck knows where.
He wanted to see him, knew he had little right to.
What was he to him?
Matching cells? The same hairline and gait?
Passed on stories that he had no memory of?
And Baphomet rolls his eyes.
Male and female, animal and human.
Right hand fingers pointing up, left hand fingers pointing down,
His mother knows all things come back in the end.
Dancing children, little shadows.
Frost and sunshine.
When she opens the door, she knows what she’s letting in.
And his father thinks nothing. He hardens; he never talks of his son.
If he hears his music, he sticks his fingers in his ears.
Your children should never die before you.
And Baphomet yawns. The flame between his horns,
The pursuit of knowledge and compassion, universal balance,
Elevated above matter, but of matter.
Baphomet works to bind and loose.
Loosing is the hardest.