Coventry

She sent me to Coventry,
but I was too clever. I paused
just out of Fenny Drayton,
north of Nuneaton, the A444,
and landed a likely lay-by.
I wrenched
the sentences out of her
seized up teeth, and bent them
like cold coathangers
into so many awkward questions.

At Lutterworth, I lugged
another slurry of syllables from her,
a silence clinging grimly
to their quiet outlines.

It took several months
to push my motor
into the outskirts, to Cheylesmore.
She took some bandage,
wrapped it, a professional,
round the mouth, the nose, and chin.
Barely breathing, she
severed the last threads, and cut
my vocabulary dead.

Coventry is a frost.
I scrape my tongue on its
February lip.

From the book Robinson Crusoe's Bank Holiday Monday