Collected Electric

Ted Hughes — The Shot
August 6, 2009, 17:45
Filed under: Poetry

Your worship needed a god.

Where it lacked one, it found one.

Ordinary jocks became gods –

Deified by your infatuation

That seemed to have been designed at birth for a god.

It was a god-seeker. A god-finder.

Your Daddy had been aiming you at God

When his death touched the trigger.

In that flash

You saw your whole life. You richocheted

The length of your Alpha career

With the fury

Of a high-velocity bullet

That cannot shed one foot-pound

Of kinetic energy. The elect

More or less died on impact –

They were too mortal to take it. They were mind-stuff,

Provisional, speculative, mere auras.

Sound-barrier events along your flightpath.

But inside your sob-sodden Kleenex

And your Saturday night panics,

Under your hair done this way and that way,

Behind what looked like rebounds

And the cascade of cries diminuendo,

You were undeflected.

You were gold-jacketed, solid silver,

Nickel-tipped. Trajectory perfect

As through ether. Even the cheek-scar,

Where you seemed to have side-swiped concrete,

Served as a rifling groove

To keep you true.

Till your real target

Hid behind me. Your Daddy,

The god with the smoking gun. For a long time

Vague as mist, I did not even know

I had been hit,

Or that you had gone clean through me –

To bury yourself at last in the heart of the god.

In my position, the right witchdoctor

Might have caught you in flight with his bare hands,

Tossed you, cooling, one hand to the other,

Godless, happy, quieted.

I managed

A wisp of your hair, your ring, your watch, your nightgown.


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