‘My mind is like an eel,’ I began my poem, as I had been instructed to, as I was supposed to, as protocol insisted that I should do. My mind is like an eel – it turneth this way and it turneth that way, ever seeking release, ever seeking relief. My mind is like a great, great eel, strong of body and slippery to the touch. Great undulations pass down its lithe and muscular body as it writhes and contorts itself, seeking to escape, ever seeking to escape.
Sharp teeth have my mind, and many of them – each one a pale ivory needle, each one eager to sink into the soft yielding flesh of the prey. How sweet, how sweet, how sweet it is to sink one’s needle sharp teeth into the soft, yielding flesh of one’s prey. My chin is wet with saliva as I think about it and I feel a yearning that comes from deep within me. ‘How sweet, how sweet, how very, very sweet,’ I say to myself, ‘what tender pleasures there are in the world and how I yearn to be better acquainted with them!’
‘My mind is like an eel,’ I wrote, but still I hadn’t got beyond the first line. It was a good start but it still obviously wasn’t enough. It was a good start but nevertheless still entirely worthless unless it led onto something else. Some rich vein of poetical delight. What sweet and tender pleasures exist in this world and how great it would be if only I could avail of them! Is my mind only like an eel or is it perhaps not just a question of mere ‘likeness’ – maybe my mind really is an eel, strong and supple, determined to writhe and wriggle its way out of whatever mess it’s in, determined to lash out and bite anything that tries to lay hold of it. The eyes that glare and the teeth that bite – that’s me beyond any doubt. That’s me right there…
‘I wandered lonely as an eel,’ I began again, but this wasn’t quite right somehow. Although in another way of course it was. I wandered lonely as a eel, I wandered lonely as a eel. That’s my situation exactly, I realise. How true, how true, how very true. I do feel lonely, just as an eel might feel lonely in its endless travels. Do eels feel lonely just as I feel lonely? No one wants to talk to me, just as no one wants to speak to an eel. I exist in the dark murky pools of the mill pond, dreaming of the tender flesh of my prey. You can’t see my eyes but they are glaring; you can’t feel my teeth but they are so, so sharp!
The eyes that glare, the teeth that bite. Think of me if you will. Think of me when you are safe and warm in your bed at night. Spare a thought for me at the bottom of my dark pool where no one may ever see me, far less lay a hand on me. I’m there, even though no one ever does think of me. I’m there, even though no one ever wishes to speak to me, or ask my opinion on anything. No pleasantries are ever uttered in my direction, no kind words ever reach my ears – not down here in the Stygian depths they don’t. No one ever thinks of me but I’m down here just the same. Writhing about in the deep.
This poetry class goes on forever, of course. No one ever finishes the poem they started. No one ever gets beyond the first line! The teacher teaches and the student learns but no one ever gets anywhere. The class never ends. We never get beyond the first line. That’s the kind of place it is down here. Deep down in the terrible Stygian depths of the eel pool. The master shouts instructions and the servant obeys but nothing ever changes, nothing ever gets done. Not down here at the bottom of the eel pool it doesn’t.
‘I wandered lonely as an eel,’ I began again, until all at once I came across a Host of Golden Eels, sparkling and gleaming and glowing in the light of their own ghostly, phantasmagorical phosphorescence. The day is the same as the night down here, of course. The day is the very same as the night down here. How awful the flesh, how fearful the eyes that peer in the dark. How fearful the teeth that bite in the dark. How very awful, how very fearful. Sharp are my teeth and strong is my body – strong and supple and hard to grasp…