God knows, it’s easy enough to point the finger.
We’re all churchwardens when we read the papers.
Disgust and self-righteousness are par for the course
on a slow suburban Sunday morning.
But at night,
when the tom-cats of loneliness call, and things
that live on secrets stretch themselves and stir.
Then dapper little accountants from Wimbledon
reach for the phone with a trembling hand
to whisper obscenities to part-time women
who yawn as they do it for them – do it all night.
Then salesmen, surveyors and warehousemen,
plasterers and clerks and the occasional priest,
the meek and the mild and the simply ordinary,
step into the neon-twisted light, blinking
and gulping and slowly transforming themselves
into leather-clad predators or hungry-angry lads.
Then the Chairman, the Chief, the public man,
waits in his car at the edge of the Common,
or walks among the silent, cruising shadows,
risking the world for a moment of excitement,
for a buzz that his daylight self can’t allow.
And somewhere in the bushes, with his heart
in his mouth, stands a man whom we nod to
or smile at in the supermarket. And he’s scared
and excited and feeling foolish, as he waits there,
naked but for a raincoat. And he’s not too sure
why he’s there again, or why the siren voices
should have brought him back. But he’s back
and he’s driven to show himself to a woman
who may vomit when she sees what he is doing,
or hurry by in shame, or scream for the police.
And the rest of him will sit on Sunday morning,
flicking through the usual spread of crucifixions.
And once again he’ll feel that little pang of envy
when he reads about the sinners who can rest.
About the author
William Ayot is an award-winning poet, author and teacher. Writing includes the play Bengal Lancer, three collections of poetry, and Re-enchanting the Forest: Meaningful Ritual in a Secular World. William teaches and coaches in organisations and is currently poet-in-residence at Oxford University Saïd Business School. He creates rituals for individuals and groups, and leads workshops on the use of poetry and ritual for psychotherapists and counsellors. www.williamayot.com
From ‘Small Things that Matter’
© William Ayot
more poems on www.williamayot.com
StopSo, looking at the issues raised by working with both sex offenders and survivors. Views expressed are those of the author not UKCP.