Cain and Abel
He’s beaten him for the umpteenth time,
delighting in his frustration right up
to the moment he drops a scab-capped
knee on the six-yard box capsizing
the teams and ripping the baize,
leaving Steve Heighway, his finger-flicked
man-of-the-match, spark out, legs smashed,
under a coracle of plastic turf.
Five tense minutes of tit-for-tat and one
by one the players vacate the simian slouch
they were molded to and only the late
intervention of their mother prevents
a massacre as she backs them out
through the scullery door, her anger
as long-lived as the floury imprint
of the wooden spoon on their shoulders.
Minutes later she’s back on the step,
more wiry sex-change Atlas than sizzling
Medusa, a world of scrunched-up baize
above her loosely rollered hair. She says
they must stay out until the lesson’s learnt.
They cavil about the cold and the rain
but when she spins her arms
and chucks the little planet they rise
against each other into the unraveling,
head to head in unexpected extra time,
skull to skull with the broken dead.
Copyright © John Murphy 2012