He can only produce out of their armoury the sophism, ‘that you can neither enquire into what you know nor into what you do not know;’
– Meno by Plato
Come, go with me into mine armoury.
– Titus Andronicus Act IV. Scene I, William Shakespeare
That there, shouldered against the wall is your best sword.
It is straight like a prod. It waits like a decision.
In this room there is only one slight window; one line to view
the place you arrived from, one glory of sight – tall, about face
in the corner. This is all striking. The dust in the air parades
for you into a course of stream-light that answers the long silence.
This room is a shadow’s room. The window is a compromise.
You arrived here by your antennae of purpose; under your hide
of skill, a madonna’s mast, a peacock’s breast, the winged effort
of an airship beating its crew, your architecture of wishes,
that perfume – a musk of roots and your ache to stand straight.
If you were stranded here, you would never feel so much
as a moist kiss, not even to the back of your own hand. You would never
walk again, the room too small to stride across. You wouldn’t even
etch a marking on the wall. What you do is sharpen. Hanker
after the blade until you are driven out by a sound that is blood
taking itself through nerve, or shovelling dirt, or penciling words
to paper, or the tearing of raw silk – strip after strip.
Eileen Pun was born in New York and now lives in Grasmere (Cumbria) England, where she works as a freelance writer, poet and artist. Her poetry has been published in various anthologies, most recently, Ten: The New Wave, Bloodaxe Books (2014). Eileen is a 2015 recipient of the UK Northern Writer’s Award (England). This year she has also received a Lisa Ullmann Travelling Scholarship (LUTSF) to China in support of her interdisciplinary work in movement and poetry.