You must not be surprised
At anything. I have found
You someone you can trust
With your message.
Oh, utterly. He is pale and mute
As a deep seafish. Thin as
A knife. He turns sideways
And nobody sees him. He
Can slip under doors. He
Hasn't a word of his own,
I promise you. Only a huge mouth
Waiting for yours. Calm yourself.
He has no lips, and his perfectly
Bared white teeth know the skull's
Amusement. Use him. He doesn't care
Where he goes. You can trust
That carelessness. Disguise him;
Any name you can give him is
True. And you need him,
His small empty smile and his
Peppermint breath and innocuous
Past. He is heartless, give him
Your words, your words.
He will seal himself up around hem,
Grow fat with them.
That will be his life:
The brief journey with a heart
He cannot understand or speak of
But will have to be killed to relinquish.
Previously published in The Threepenny Review # 13, Spring 1983