Mark Saunders πŸ”ˆ

May Bug

These things start inside the head
under an aura of darkness. They need confinement.
The hour is summerteeth, a gauze of sound looming
larger, a margin bell that rings
and rings when something clever is being born.

So many lumens are skull-splitting, the light spill
drawing insects through the crack of the window
or onto the door glass, mostly
May bugs struck again and again
that the moon is ahead, hung in there with you.

And the noise. A low frequency insistence
you could clap in time with, then bombinating
the threshold, entomologist words
whirred slow enough to catch
onto, pushed over and over.

You’ve handled them before, snagged
by their barbed pull, the underfeet like hook side
velcro, or a suit de-bobbler, or retro
speaker fabric in cloth of gold when you brush
against it, especially in the night.

But the weight is welcome, held
like a lure sinker, cast more heavily
than you would imagine. You pen it
behind a loose grip, a joy buzzer unsprung
against your palm, life spooling out

and pinned down. Here lies
Billy witch, the cob-worm, oak-wib,
the Spang beetle anchored
by boys to a linen thread and flying
in spirals around its name, caught and taut

and free as a kite. It takes you back
to midsomerdor, the kittywitch, dumbledarey
alluding surely to another world: the bracken
clock, the roomworm with a fine mesh up
to keep the splutter out, the hissing.

There’s a tapping coming from outside
your sleep, finger tattooed by a friend, the wake up
code for leaving home nocturnally. It beats
through My Wild Love, pulling away
erratically through the big smoke, the brake

squeal, the nearside wing panel colliding
with a fence in medias res while speeding
your nuts off on the unmade
road, slewing to a stop. These were partly
the humps and bumps, part unnamed

teenage fantasy to be sung around
the campfire one day. It sounded that way
on the record, the whoops and clicks
and hollering in the studio after the music
didn’t work. Now the frontier has come

to a bomb crater below a motorway
junction in the A3 corridor off Sheepwash
Road. Dropping down through the copse
they get burning, gather round. The farthest
falling embers you can see are eyeflashed

and glossed over, a brink of glowing faces
looking inward. Low smoke thickens
on the valley floor, smogging at the dew
point, tasting acrid. But no-one
is singing, and you can’t make them go back

now. The hour ends at the suggestion of police
sirens, blue light imagined, the firepit flare
stamped out, pissed over. Everyone moved
on. You lie back then, beasted
by the undergrowth, tear ducts stung

with smuts, the last lungful fading
through the canopy, blacked out. The air
is burnt away, the ground is ash, bone
and tarred, damp. You are home, reeking
of stale smoke. It’s quiet again.

Author Reading

About the Author

Mark Saunders is a writer and teacher living on the Isle of Wight, United Kingdom. His writing been published in Abridged Magazine, emagazine, and Meniscus Literary Journal, and by the Oxford University Press.