Act of Nature

With most of my poems, I attempt to adhere to conventional rhyme and metre, but occasionally there are subjects that defy the limits of such formal constraints.  The unconventional behaviour of my nextdoor neighbour – as described in “Act of Nature” – turned out to be an example of this.  The only kind of pattern or shape I could impose on the poem was that derived from counting syllables; but I suppose the end-result is more of a “prose-poem” than anything else.

As for the behaviour of my neighbour, as they say in my native South Yorkshire: “There’s nowt as queer as folk”.

Act of Nature:

Seen through my upstairs window
one glorious midsummer evening:
the man nextdoor – stocky, bald-pated –
standing, motionless, in the
cleft of a hedge.

Human cat, eyeing his prey?
Is he a spy, observing his neighbours?
Harmless naturalist, observing
innocent creatures’ behaviour
in the hedge?

A wanton flutter of breeze
ruffles the leaves, finally reveals the 
obvious, surprising truth: he is
pissing, intensely focused,
into the hedge.

I know little about the
man; but I do know he lives alone, and
has a fully-functioning toilet
in his bathroom.  Why, then, do it
in the hedge?

The mystery, now revealed,
becomes newly-obscured.  Is this perverse  
act a secret ritual, performed
nightly?  What is it that drives
him to the hedge?

The leaves enclose the scene.  I
have to imagine the patter of piss
on the leaves; the majestic, golden
arc of it.  The growing, dark
patch of earth.

The act ends suddenly, with
the pulling of the zip.  He steps away,
with accusatory glare around.
I withdraw, guilty, somehow,
witnessing it.

We return to the mundane.
Who knows the reasoning behind it?  And
who cares?  The earth will accept this gift
of irrigation.  The leaves will
gladly glisten.




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