Boardman and Coffin, by Conrad Aiken

Boardman and Coffin

I told him straight, if he touched me, just once more, --
The way, you know, --I'd kill him. And I did.
Why shouldn't I? I told him straight I would.
And here I am!--And I hope to God I die.
You wouldn't think this hand could hit so hard, --
Look, there's still powder on it, and rouge on the nails!
Maybe it's blood.--I told him, if he touched me!--
And he'd come grinning up, and think, because
The house was watching everything we did,
That he could touch me, while he danced with me, --
That way, you know, --and get away with it..
Well, you can't say I didn't give him warning.
My God, I hated him! The things he did!
You wouldn't believe them if I told them to you,
They were so nasty. They almost killed me, --killed me, --
Night after night!--Well, anyway, he's dead,
Dead as a stick, or a stone, or an old cigar-butt.
You wouldn't think I would do a thing like that, --
I don't look so strong, do I?--But when you're dancing,
You've got to keep in shape. And then, my God!--
When he came leering downward with those eyes,
Those red-brown eyes, like fire, like a vampire's eyes,
I thought I'd scream, go mad, or fling myself
Over the footlights, into the orchestra, --
Anywhere, anywhere, --only to get away!
They were like wheels of fire, those eyes of his, --
Whirling and whirling, and always getting bigger;
Like terrible doors, with fires roaring inside them,
Roaring and roaring, and always coming nearer, --
And sort of sucking at me, and pulling my dress,
And pressing hot cruel fingers against my breasts,
And blowing my hair up, and pushing against my knees, --
And all the while laughing and laughing at me!
O, it was terrible, terrible, --like a nightmare,
Slowly leaning downward upon you and crushing,
And your heart stops beating, and you can't move a finger,
But lie there sweating!--   I had to kill him, --that's all, --I had to kill him.
I told him straight, if he touched me just once more, --
That way, you know, --I'd kill him. And I did.
Those fire-wheel eyes! Do you know what I thought I was doing?
Well, when they came down, bigger and bigger, and whirling,
Whirling so fast, with fire all round the rims,
And the spokes all going so quick you couldn't see them,
Only a sort of blur, --I thought I'd stop them,
By suddenly sticking a knife in through the spokes!
And I did. And all of a sudden the music stopped--
Just like grand opera! And he was kneeling there,
Putting his hands down, sort of groping, and nodding,
As if he were looking for something. Ha! A joke.
And seeing that he was done for, I stabbed myself:
A Jap I knew once showed me how to do it.
And I heard great bells go roaring down the darkness;
And a wind rushed after them. And that was all.

poems.one - Conrad Aiken