This is a poem I wrote as an angsty, over-read yet emotionally charged teenager discovering his sexuality. As all the best and worst poetry is. The main aspect of “palimpsest” in this is the outright theft of the concept of Gabriel-Ernest, the eponymous wolf-boy in Saki’s short story. Carnivorous, naked, lithe, potent, sinful, playful, cunning, outwardly innocent, unchristian, wild. I wished to be him. There’s also an aspect of vampirism, myths, rumours, insinuation, nuance.
A gleaming boy, who lurks under the sun
Of a forest where he whiles away the want –
Fringe damp from a frolic, in the stream –
And smears around his gorgeous, bloody lips,
Sunbathing under an afternoon of trees.
(Why in the summer should one care for clothes?)
(And in the winter, footprints in the snow
Of his very own, unnatural advances) –
And when he smiles he snarls and when he laughs
Trees shed their flying flesh in awe of him.
His chest goes up, and down – on his flank
Silver marks, like a ribcage, carve him out.
Only mankind dares, strange company, to comfort him:
Silver scars, like a hunted animal.
And when he hunches, right over, the curving spine
Emerges; when his body becomes taut
In action, every instinct is involved.
There’s a young lad in the woods.
There’s a creature in the woods.
(In winter we found footprints on the snow
So large so long like dagger’s blades imprinted
At such a pace, we feared to look up from them
And see ahead of us the one who made them)
They always find the most attractive hosts,
And kiss their lips with such a wild abandon,
Their necks, in cruel distraction, and their thighs
With hands through hair
And breathing, and animality
And coming through the trees,
And in some myths we’re just nocturnal lovers;
In others we’re the predators of youth,
A breathing, thrilling legend, bated breath
With silver scars and gorgeous, boyish lips.