When I saw you last it was
on a wall in a backwater that
for a brief moment had been
the apogee of the industrial revolution,
the acme of enlightened humanity,
the promise of a future less fractious
and you were, let us not be coy,
revelling in your nakedness
by the water, clay locks tumbling
only slightly less thunderously
into the loch than the waterfall
upstream, out of painterly reach.
And I thought, ah Lord Lever, how
did you smuggle her past
the good Lady – let alone Venus
waiting for her ravishment and
Salammbô enjoying her punishment?
But you were the one with
all the sunshine. You have it still,
even with your flesh wrapped
in rocks and red rubber. You were
meant to pray for me, then prey on me.
I still wait for it, I still wish for it.
Take me into your depths.
from Neptune’s Projects by Rishi Dastidar.
Published by Nine Arches Press in April 2023.
Copyright © 2023 by Rishi Dastidar.
Poem selected by Emilia Mirazchiyska