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April 15, 2024

You Keep Them Down There?

By Ian Mullins

You Keep Them Down There?

‘Don’t worry,’ he said, pulling on
fisherman’s waders. ‘You won’t
have to go down there.’

‘Down where?’ I asked.
He heaved a rusted door
and shone a torch upon three feet
of water, migrant rats crossing
their own Irish Sea. ‘Liverpool’s built
on the edge of the water,’ he explained.
‘Some of it’s bound to creep in.’

He waded between rodents
the size of feral cats, a conscript
fighting a war so ancient
he no longer remembered how
to dredge salt from the sea;
only how to separate a living
from a life.

Emerged with a patient’s notes
held together by knotted
elastic bands, corners gnawed
by mice; dead spider flowers
pressed between pages

an audiologist will glance over
and say ‘there’s nothing here for us.’
We live on the edge of the water:
some of it’s bound to seep in.

Article © Ian Mullins. All rights reserved.
Published on 2024-03-04
Image(s) are public domain.
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