Hungry caterpillars

 

nameless dumb late afternoon
and silence crawls in great puddles of caterpillars—

huge tangled clumps of them, everywhere
in dribbling handfuls of larval jelly absorbing all light
splattering the cold blank walls,
hanging down in rivulet twists from cracked cornices
drooping between the folds of faded brown drapes
crawling in the kitchen among the noodles,
hovering in quivering halos around the lamp
oozing all over the sick bug-addled light bulb
plopping onto the desk in shadowy emulsions,
black hollow eye sockets overflowing with whole colonies of them—

they come in through the cracks around the door
with the numb air and a dissolving sunset
that has crept up on you yet again
with everything still up in the air, undone—
minutes clot, then break open again,
flowering out like sea anemones drowning in slow motion
time jumping like a dirty needle over warped grooves
12 mins to 35 mins to an hour and a half later,
lines break apart and vanish,
hours splinter into scattered shots in the dark,
gone without a trace—

and there they are again,
pulsating masses of them wriggling around in the cracks of the day
that get wider and wider
until [probably, some day] there’ll be  nothing but that,
a whistling gap
that becomes a slobbering toothless mouth
slackjawed and gaping with saliva strands
all contorted and hungry and unfed,
just a big empty space, white on white, black on black,
words and phrases, unfinished thoughts and fractured sentences
all chasing one another
to suffocate and blot each other out,
painting over all expressions on a phantom drama mask—

those fat spaghetti globs of caterpillar silence,
spilling out in a creeping, flopping wave
all over the bedside alarm clock that’s been frozen on 7:55 for months
swallowing it all up finally,
and then they’ll mute the television, the stereo
the grinding whir of the pc, the shudder of the crappy printer
the hum and gurgle of the fridge
the muffled traffic on Rathdowne Street, the trams on Lygon
the clacking heels of the lady upstairs
the rattle of the kitchen windows in the thick heavy wind
the steaming bubble of the boiling kettle
the clink of the butter knife hitting the metal sink
the rustle of papers, a book falling to the floor
the scratch of the pen dragging across the page
the mug hitting against other mugs in the cupboard
the run of the tap that still drips
the toilet flush, the shower head and whirling slurp of the drain
the snap of the light switching off
the shuffle of the blind grope to bed that becomes a deafening maze
the tinkle of someone pissing upstairs like a cold blade down your back
the weighty thrum of blood in your ears
and soft warm swirl of worlds bleeding together in distant chattering whispers,
all drowned right out, gone,
until they cover everything—

and they count
with every one of their tiny hair-breath legs
each and every single tiny failure of the day
each and every little death and defeat
every missed train, every wrecked ship,
every single flying drunken car that slams into a wall and bursts into flames
and they trace all the grimy skin-twitch trails the day leaves behind
as it slides even farther away
from any possibility of redemption, salvaging at least something
worth noting down, something worth writing about,
worth photographing in your mind
or carving into the resin-bark of your still-beating heart
something worth resting and sleeping and dying and being born in…

they drip and droop in gleaming dark rivulets, emulsion puddles of silence,
and with the trillions of microscopic nerve-endings
in their billions of crawling microscopic hair-breath legs
they sweep the dull buckled grey lino floor clean

Leave a Reply