• Judith Crispin


De Profundis




By the fibreglass statue of Aphrodite

at the swimming-pool’s edge

she watches the invisible children 

and disappear, their shapes echoed

in the silhouetted palms of hotel windows,

in the gravid buzz of flies above garbage cans,

behind Chinese restaurants. Under ceiling fans

their voices curl through vases of cut flowers,

the steam that coils on a teacup’s lip, where

buses stop; they wheel about her

like a bitter wind, rearranging dead leaves

into forms in the air and later, in

the television's blue light

her elbows jutting against vacant glass

she watches the rain sweep sideways, only she

and the neon of late night supermarkets

she and the rain-black road, the slight weight

of an empty hand.




Der Doppelgänger




After the flashlights

had returned from the escarpment

and the reproach of neighbours gave way

to a silence more brutal

she would tell them

of the black trees, the white trees

rooted grave

where the sun has no access

and the dog glimpsed

between elbows of thick branches

a dog who owned no shadow

or whose shadow assumed the form of birds

and who carried a child's shoe in its mouth

through woods that no real dog would enter

woods ringed by autobahns and built

on the rubble of destroyed apartment blocks

and soviet tanks

and where it passed she wrapped wire

around the trunks of the pines




in another room

the television drones its test pattern

but now she stands in an open window

as the wind moves across the yard

and folds floral curtains

into her arms



*The Gabriel Hounds, associated with the Wild Hunt, are described in German folklore as changelings, or Doppelgänger. After the wild hunt has passed, sometimes they appear to hang over a house and then death or calamity is sure to visit it. The hounds are said to steal children and, in some versions of the legend, are themselves the souls of unbaptised children.