WHAT REALLY HAPPENED1981-2003 by Judith Kingston
A poem inspired by Phil Spector’s Wikipedia page
Part 1. Near-fatal accident
No one quite knows what happened.
The day was lying low and the birds in the gutter,
but one step led to another, irrevocably.
There were pills or probably it was rum, too,
some cocktail of unfortunate ups and downs
that set the train on the rails, irretrievably,
Until his foot hit the pedal
and the pedal the floor
and his head the wheel
and his wheels the curb
and his car the pole
and his bumper the sky
and the roof the road.
Part 2. Inactivity
Life sloshed out of the cup, rubbed carelessly
into the sofa, spilling and spilling, enough
for everyone, buy a round, maybe two.
BAM. (See part 1.)
After: Lie. Very. Still.
Do not jolt the cup.
Do not rustle.
Life is a mouse in your cupped hands,
do not startle,
its brittle bones can snap
its heart will stop at the slightest
sign of trouble.
All in all, it is best if you lie very still.
Part 3. Murder
Silence covers the black waters
where near-death stares actual-death
in the eyes.
Where, really, is this line
between air and water, me and you?
Was it you, in that car, the driver,
or was it I, the observer, who died,
did my mind cross over and
break the surface on your behalf?
Am I the penny in your mouth?
Did my last breath snatch you from the waves
and place your two, frightened
feet back on the path you did not
wish to tread?
All I know is I am down here,
vacant eyes tracing your shadow
as you walk away.
I am your secret chapter, the true
tale of these quiet years
Judith is Dutch but lives in the UK. She specialises in unhelpful advice and shopping lists. Poems in Barren Magazine, Riggwelter, Kissing Dynamite & more. Microchap: Mother is the Name for God (Ghost City Press 2020 Summer Series). Also in Crossing Lines: an anthology of immigrant poetry (Broken Sleep Books). She tweets @judithkingston