There’s a voice in my room that hums me to sleep

With songs of burnt dust and the counting of sheep.

And I dream of the woods that live by my house

Where the trees are soft and the dark is deep.

 

The voice is coming

Humming, humming

From my radiator’s lungs.

My mother is concerned because

In sleep I speak in tongues.

 

At school there’s a boy called Billy who reads

Books about men who make people bleed

With chainsaws and stuff. I ask what they mean

And he says he can’t say, they’ll lead me astray

And I’m too young to get them, anyway.

 

One day when school ends he steps back from his friends

Who are all short and nervous although they’re Year Tens.

He walks alongside me until I agree

To come and see something he wants me to see.

 

We go to the woods and he takes off his face

And shows me the thing that lives in its place.

Thank you, I say, but I don’t think I know

What you want me to do, and I’m going home.

 

The radiator voice just hums

Its E-flat minor tune.

I think of Billy’s other face

His hungry, hungry other face

Round and bright like the moon.

 

A girl joins my class and her long pretty hair

Makes other children giggle and stare.

It’s bright as the moon.

She sits by the window and looks at the trees

And hums an E-flat tune of unease.

 

At lunchtime she sings me her songs of burnt dust

And tells me a story of men from the moon.

And I tell her of trees that whisper in tongues

And how they wait outside my bedroom.

 

We go to the woods and I take off my face

And show her the thing that lives in its place.

And to my surprise she screams and she says

You are not one of Adam’s children of clay:

You are fierce and vile and born of the fey.

I know your wild eyes and the terrible grace

Of the tales you tell from your terrible face.

 

Away she runs.

By my head the trees hum.

 

I go to the wood and it takes off its face

And shows me the thing that lives in its place.

It smells of burnt dust and the insides of sheep

And the trees, like fur, are soft and deep.

 

There are men who live on the moon.

There are voices in the trees.

There is a hum at the back of the world

Writing words we cannot read.

 

In my bedroom by the woods

My radiator speaks.

I listen to the sounds it says

And sleep and sleep and sleep.

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