Primal Scene

by Diane Fahey

Diane Fahey

The summons comes at a late hour — so inconvenient:
she's propped against pillows, glass of port to hand,
reading The Case of the Disappearing Doppelgänger
A night journey. Soon after eight, she trudges up the drive,
refuses tea, strides to the summerhouse. Suddenly,
she's staring down at a vacant space, shaped like a body.
No proof of crime yet, but where has this life disappeared to?
By nine, they've assembled — the whole jittery cast:
over dark crescent moons, stunned eyes avoid each other.
She paces the room, tests each angle and point of view:
that tired woman on the sofa, her hair blurred by sunlight —
where's she in all this? And, near the door, looking forlorn,
the girl with bitten nails. By the aspidistra, duster in hand,
the spruce maid. (That costume's clearly a façade.)
She herself is in drag on this occasion — crossed boundaries
can disconcert, help cut to the truth; besides, the best
thinking's done in a collar and tie — or so they say…
Using her watch as an aide-mémoire, she starts the questions.
Later, strolling the garden — how all those faces seem
like flowers! — she notes a sundial fringed by daisies:
a dance of asterisks shadows that unequivocal triangle.
Life as a Freudian detective story! — what can't or won't
they remember about what did her in, made her just
fade away? Who holds the key? Will any clues be found?
At one point a child had run across the room — plump,
with dark curls, an unfrilled dress. Whom did she run to,
look away from? Quick, write it down before it's lost!
The time has come for her to stand in that void
outlined on the floor, stare everyone hard in the eye,
say something eccentric, and leave…Return to Start:
it's a real board game getting back to where she came from,
but, at the other end, the book lies open on the table,
the port glints. They're assembled in the summer- house.
It's Sunday, the air outside balmy — a trampoline for bees.
Inside, humidity. They watch me circle then enter
that mummy-shaped form. This is the optimum moment:
if there's to be a revelation it must come now… I turn,
meet each pair of eyes — all blue-green, like my own.
After a tortuous silence, an unexpected voice begins to speak.

The body in time

Last updated August 18, 2022