on this low-slung gypsy barge
that he’s a murderer
that they’re going to catch up with him
that when they do he’ll be dead

The last thing he sees is a hill looming ahead
dark & rocky & overhanging the river
the canal’s carved through its lower flanks
are they waiting for him there?
he guesses they are
can see them lying behind a stone
crooking their rifles
ready to wing him
take him down
dark soldiers of fortune
vigilantes, hunters

Did the alarm go off then?
he wakes with the shock of the new-born
like a water-breathing organism thrust suddenly into air
the last image he retains is the boat’s white side
the name painted there in ragged black letters
that strange, foreign name

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