Saturday Poem: ‘The Head-Spider’ by Les Murray

Where I lived once, a roller coaster’s range
of timber hills peaked just by our backyard cliff
and cats undulated scream-driven round its seismograph—
and climbed up to us with an indrawn gasp of girls.
Smiles and yelling could be exchanged as they crested
then they’d pitch over, straining back in a shriek
that volleyed as the cars were snatched from sight
in the abyss, and were soon back. Weekdays they rested,
and I rested all days. There was a spider in my head
I’d long stay unaware of. If you’re raped you mostly know
but I’d been cursed, and refused to notice or believe it.
Aloof in a Push squat, I thought I was moral, or dead.
Misrule was strict there, and the Pill of the day only ever
went into one mouth, not mine, and foamed a Santa-beard.
I was resented for chastity, and slept on an overcoat.
Once Carol from upstairs came to me in bra and kindness
and the spider secreted by girls’ derision-rites to spare
women from me had to numb me to a crazed politeness.
Squeals rode the edge of the thrill building. Cartoonist Mercier
drew springs under Sydney. Push lovers were untrue on principle.
It’s all architecture over there now. A new roller coaster
flies its ups and downs in wealth’s face like an affront.
I’ve written a new body that only needs a reader’s touch.
If love is cursed in us, then when God exists, we don’t.
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