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,
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