Thursday, 23 October 2008

Brother Guy

I must've been about six
when my dad built the Guy.

It wore an old, dark suit
and a lipstick smile
and it sat for days
in our outhouse,
its condemned cell,
smiling silently to itself,
staring at the wall.

I went in to say hello
from time to time
and, of course,
I fell in love with him.

Come the night,
I protested so loudly
he had to be brought down
from the top of the bonfire
and sat before the flames
to keep warm and watch
the fireworks.

Thereafter, he lived
in the kitchen where he
frightened my mother
every morning.
Like all our houseguests
he finally took his leave
although no-one ever told me
where he went.


The Weaver of Grass said...

He went to that great bonfire in the sky!

Anonymous said...

There's a deceptive simplicity about this that captures perfectly the child's perception.

Poet in Residence said...

Lovely story. Our family gathered in the shadows of the small back garden bonfire. We had a rocket in the milk bottle, a Catherine Wheel on the coal house door and a few sparklers.
I suspect somebody nicked your guy. We had our guy's wooden chair nicked by a boy who said he was our friend. An early lesson.

Dominic Rivron said...

Thanks for these comments.

A "great bonfire in the sky" is a terrifying thought...

Rachel Fox said...

So true. When we made scarecrows for our village festival recently our daughter spent ages chatting with them in the garage before they went on show. She wanted to keep them...but they went back in the garage and then magically disappeared one day leaving behind only a box of straw and a pile of clothes!

Rachel Fox said...

p.s.I love the title.

Dominic Rivron said...

Magically disappeared??!

Rachel Fox said...

Well I never lie to Small Girl so I didn't say those words...I dodged...changed the subject...'oh, look what the puppy's doing..'

Julie said...

Hello. I saw you at S.L. Corsua's site, "Unguarded Utterance." She's right as always. This is a spectacular poem! I love the story, too. I also love the last stanza. Excellent work. It's nice to meet you.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I cam here from Corusa's site. Wonderful poem, it almost sounds surreal. I love surreal.

Anonymous said...

love it, remind me of my childhood, on the farm, in the fall, in Minnesota -- I can feel the bonfire, I can see the outhouse, -- you have captured those moments --- as one said with magic ==

Beth said...

Hello, I also came here from S. L. Corsua's site and enjoyed your poem very much for the simple wording that captures a child's observations and the mystery of the harvest bonfires.

Scott Ennis said...

A brilliant poem. Very well done. Brought back memories of a "guy" we made in college and named "the owner of a lonely heart."
Question: is a British "outhouse" the same as an American one? I seem to recall somewhere that an "outhouse" could be any sort of shed detached from the main house and not necessarily a toilet.

Dominic Rivron said...

Thanks to everybody for the comments!

Julie: pleased you enjoyed it!

Mariacristinapoesia: If you like surreal, try this one.

soulintention: It's obvious, but it always fascinates me how an experience turned into a poem stimulates recollection in its readers. The reader enjoys the poem, but sees things in it which the poet cannot begin to imagine. I went recently to a place which part of one of my favourite poems was based on (Basil Bunting's Brigflatts) and only realised when I recognised various features. It seemed quite ordinary - nothing like the numinous landscape I'd imagined from reading the poem!

Beth: I've never heard them called harvest bonfires before - I need to find out more about autumn traditions.

Scott Ennis: "the owner of a lonely heart" is a great name. An outhouse in the UK is any sort of shed. Just another of those potentially embarrassing sources of cultural confusion, by the sound of it.

Annamari said...

lovely, it captures well a child's view...