1 JANUARY 1965, Page 21


Old Short Word

It struck two o'clock, her eyes met mine, fire from a gun.

'I'm sorry,' she said; 'it's a case of the old short word.'

The weather was preparing to change. 'Is it,' I asked,

'A case of the old short word, old short word.

To lie like a hack-horse-coper, a twopenny bawd, On the back- and the fore-hand, as easy as swill from a glass?'

'Yes, it is,' she answered. 'Is it,' I asked

(And the blue sky went green as pistachio nuts) 'A case of the word, to game it all forward and back, On the fro, on the to, like a boy with a fish, cat With a cradle?' (The green sky went purple as a plum.)

'Yes, it is,' she answered. Next I asked

'Is it a case, to be never yourself, no more (Tbe sky going brown as a bun) than light in a prism That tangles its angles as you dangle the glass?' 'Yes, 'That too,' she answered. 'Is it,' I asked her next 'A case, a case, for the mouth of a woman to taste Aloes and sloe for the places it goes and will go?' 'Yes,' she answered, the sky blushing burgundy red, The words I spoke being these; ' and your tongue to strike Abrupt as the copper-head? Look ! Try counting them now, Weals from a tongue that plies at the old short' word.'

The sky was flaming genteelly, like a charcoal grill In a soft lights restaurant. '0 yes,' was what she answered, 'That's the word, that's the Real Presence of the Word.'

The sky in this country being grey, we hearing the clock

Lash two at the bell, fire from a gun.