11/13/2013 06:16 am ET

Featured Fifty Poetry: Capture

Sue Mansi knew she was a writer when she was eight. Meanwhile, she became a yoga teacher for twenty years and a psychotherapist for another twenty (overlapping!). Sue has two grown up daughters and two grandsons who are growing up fast. Now, at fifty-eight, she continues to write and has begun to make films. At the moment, she is working on a documentary about a charity that works with people in care homes, especially those with dementia, to improve the quality of their emotional, creative and spiritual care. Sue is a Buddhist, which for her is an ongoing enquiry into our nature and how to liberate ourselves from our delusions about the nature of reality.

'Capture' was one of those poems that almost appeared as a Gestalt -- it arrived fully grown, only the details needed crafting. I find it disturbing and exciting in equal measure. It says something to me about how we all try to tame each other but secretly desire wildness.

Note. "Keen" as a noun or verb comes from the Irish/Scots Gaelic term "caoineadh" (to cry, to weep) and references to it from the seventh, eighth and twelfth centuries are extensive. From Wikipedia.


I attracted unwanted attention

Whilst keening in the woods,

Although I had troubled to take myself

As far as I could from my fellows.

A group of men found me, and decided

That I was a specimen of something they'd thought extinct.

A dead end, evolutionarily speaking; a creature

With too many nerve endings to cope in a dangerous world.


They took me - carefully, they were very kind -

To an institution to be studied. But they didn't understand

What I liked to eat; that sleeping in a bed

Made me sore, with its soporific softness,

And that having a ceiling above my head instead

Of the ever-mutable sky, caused me to ail,

And sicken, and forget how to breathe.


I was written up in learned journals.

Distinguished professors came from every shore

To marvel at my mere existence. Unfortunately

They all forgot what had made me interesting in the first place;

My unique genetics, my singular outlook, my unusually large heart

That beat with the tattoo of ancient song, and, above all

My ability to see through men, as if they were made of glass.


They did know that I was dangerous, though;

They made sure there were bars on the windows, and that

I was attended constantly by men with large bunches of keys

And just as many locks to fit them into, which constituted,

For them, a life's work.


What they didn't know - this was their downfall -

Was that some, among their own number, were blighted

With a recessive disposition to be attracted

To my way of life. Over a number of months -

For I am as patient, as I am apparently wild -

I seduced one of my jailors with the promise

Of an unseen and hitherto unsuspected paradise,

And he, when he was ripe, sprang us both free,

Whereupon we escaped on foot by the light of the moon -

Oh, She, bright silver moon! - and now we are living

Back in the very forest where they encountered me first.


But I have learnt cunning. I keen silently. I dance

In secret. I drum my heart while he sleeps. And him?

He hasn't thrown his keys away. He unsettles me.

He is sweet to me and I am sweet to him, but

When I tear his shirt off at night, I have to stop myself

From sinking my teeth into his veins, drinking him to death,

To preserve my freedom. Always, always, the greater prize.