Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Sunday, 30 October 2016


William's Cage

“You're full of holes,” he said.

I thought he was trying to shock
so I asked if that was bad.

He closed his eyes
and covered his ears,
and he said.

“They can get at you
through the holes
but if you block them up
‘the real you’ can't get out.

“And if you poke your finger in –
I'll bite!”

19 August 1989
The last ‘Sweet William’ poem was Cinders’ (#634). I don’t specify who he’s talking to here but in my head it’s the lady doctor who we first met in #620. I can see it would be easy to assume a sexual undercurrent here and, of course, that’s what the psychiatrist (assuming that’s what she is) thinks. Although it’s true that we all have holes in our bodies that can be penetrated I really was thinking in a broader sense—the eyes see, the ears hear, the nose smells, the mouth tastes—and it really is impossible to switch all of this stimuli off. My mother towards the end of her life became very fond of the expression ‘You are what you eat’ and it’s a good expression. We are, however, not simply what we ingest. All day long and every day we absorb stuff from daylight to germs. We’re never the same from one moment to the next. We’re perpetually in flux and so it’s impossible to pin down the ‘real’ us. Is ‘the real me’ writing this? Did ‘the real me’ write that poem?

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