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The Evil Key


In woods and lakes, car boots, freezers, huts,
in ministers' apartments where their flailing last

went on too long, garrotted, poisoned, hanged
or sliced in half and lain like Solomon's child

on the bridge of a border between two countries—
the myriad murdered dead of Scandinavia

are seeping their slow corrosion into the air, into
the tap water, and must be found. So many crimes

unsolved you'd think those dressed-down cops
in their open-plan offices balanced books

on their heads all day or practised on the sly
for the Eurovision Song Contest. But wait—

Denmark and Sweden's cleverest women
are on their way: obsessed, lonely, semi-autistic

and wired as no man with them ever is
to sense, without exactly evidence, where corpses

have been left: plastered into a crevice in a flat
in an affluent suburb or strung amongst the cables

of a lift-shaft in a disused meat-packing plant.
F# Minor, writes Johann Mattheson in 1713,

is abandoned, singular, misanthropic, and leads
to great distress. We cannot well accompany

the Devil in any other key. It will invert any thing—
Jingle Bells, Home On the Range, Dick Van Dyke's

Chim Chim Cheree—turning them hopeless
and ironic, just as glass-walled houses

in the forest, immaculate kitchens, flat-pack rooms
sprung wide and nifty public transport systems

translate to mist in the brightly-lit underground
hall of the coroner's workspace where three

blonde girls from the badminton squad
have hit their brutal terminus. We are given

less than a second
with their lacerated legs and hands.

Then cut to the churning sea with the moon on it—
the music making it worse—then nothing.


Sinéad Morrissey

Poetry Ireland Review

Issue 108


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