I went in search of the plot,
in the metaphorical forest,
where all the trees looked the same.
I went with an older, American Writer,
who’d seen it all before.
‘The story,’ he said, ‘happens in the gaps.’
Oh, yes, those gaps:
those left-over bomb craters,
from a never-forgotten war.
yawning between my hopes
and my goals.
I threw a rope, and dangled,
white knuckled and swaying,
as I hauled my way across.
‘You see,’ he said, ‘already the audience is
rooting more for the adversity.’
But the forest grew thicker:
the spiky agent trees,
and the slopes of disappointment,
and the bonfires of first drafts.
The American writer held a sausage
over one such fire,
reached for a hot-dog bun,
chewed with an open mouth.
‘Specific, sensuous detail,’ he said,
when I averted my gaze from that churning pit.
He led me up a twisted, staircase of a tree,
until we stood, swaying, side by side,
at its flimsy top.
He pointed at the distant Peaks of Publication –
their slopes swathed in swirling banks of mist –
and bade me fly.
To trust, or not to trust,
That is the question.
It’s where the plot diverges.
It’s where the story gets complex.
I demanded props:
a witch’s hat, a cloak, a slinking cat,
teeth bared in a hiss.
I demanded a Nimbus 2,000.
He told me that JK Rowling lacked the literary merit
for such an assault on the heights.
‘But people read her,’ I said.
He rolled his eyes,
and handed me a rectangular bottomed broom–
left over from an off-off-Broadway production of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice –
its short bristles wefted with cobwebs and dead flies.
To fly or not to fly,
that is the question.
Do I trust him?
‘There’s a limited number of plots.’
He sounded impatient.
‘How else do you think you can get there?’
‘What about the sudden twist?’ I said,
‘The revolution? The betrayal?’
‘Humh.’ His laugh stuck in his throat,
trapped by grease.
And I sensed the feline slink of a black cat,
wandering quivering branches towards me.
‘Murder your darlings,’ I pointed out,
as he hawked to clear his throat.
‘I must admit,’ I said, ‘you have a certain grotesque fascination,
but you’re not essential to the plot.’
He fell, like an upturned beetle,
landed in a clump.
that of a distant explosion in a cellar –
the sort of explosion that could bring down a government.
Metaphorical leaves rose in a cloud of smoke,
then settled back to cover him.
I reshaped the broom
to a more pleasing shape –
long insect-free bristles, sweeping the air –
svelte and potent.
The black cat leapt and landed,
as a cloak of winter black,
with luminous-moon lining,
wrapped around my shoulders.
with cat’s tail purring behind –
Image ‘Derivative of File:Salvatore Postiglione Motiv aus dem Decamerone.jpg‘ by MCruz (WMF) reproduced under a Creative Commons licence.