Thresholds by Iain Twiddy


Reluctantly, hushed, glooming into view,
like the strained and dappled light of a glade
from the swashing-switching of the birches

in which, further in the murk, the wolf could be
forelimbed, pulsing like the heart at the twigging ribs
as the scrunch of the gravel imprinted

the scrim of catkins like burnt-up snakes,
unease heavy as the boughs, and the forearm-
shock like a limb zapped off, lifting to the bell,

electric then up the veins; that fizzed stillness,
listening if something would stir within,
was it too soon to run, did the house hold

a living thing like a bird stunned from the bush;
would she shuffle up, the floor creak like a deck,
and confirm she had been peerily watching.

This was when, like a page slowly turning,
the crack of the door painted her picture,
the woman to whom you had been sent

for a story of the sea in the pipe-deep study,
the clutchy treasure-map of a shopping list,
the trembling coins for the church magazines,

when all thoughts opened with the ease of books,
when every bungalow and tumbledown house
was a cottage snugged in the wayward forest,

an ivy-climbed lodging by the castle wall,
when a crooked finger spelled out danger,
and breath heaved the body like a listing ship,

when the armchair smell sogged, sank like a bog,
and the fire snapped like bones in the grate,
and the back rooms were a forbidden realm;

all of which makes me wonder, even so far away,
if there is any less mystery when,
in my inner mind, those doors appear;

and is that dread at where they might go
any less – since the content only seems
to increase, every time I go thus astray–

or is it the same, in a different way.

Iain Twiddy studied literature at university and lived for several years in northern Japan. He has poems published or forthcoming in Salamander, Quiddity, The Blue Mountain Review, The Dalhousie Review, Flyway and elsewhere.