D.M. Thomas





CHASTITY VEIL: Universal headdress, often highly ornamental, consisting of telepathy-blocks (usually in the form of jewels) fixed to the critical points of the skull. (First used c.2800.)

-- from the Revised Anglamerican Dictionary

He raped her. Ripped the filaments from her skull.
She pleaded, by their home, their children, but
he tore the jewels off, mad with desire
to know her, to entirely penetrate,
like some Europa-storming bull.

A topaz -- and he was in her in a flash;
he saw his bulging eyes leer down, smelt
the beastly courage he had drunk, he heard
blood pounding at her eardrums, felt
mind cleaving open as the stones

went . . . diamond -- and he flinched at her
emotions . . . onyx
-- and one hammer-thought -- HE’LL KILL ME . . .
sapphire -- and vestigial memory
rushed into him -- a girl beneath her father,

on a blue quilt; with the more terrible
revelations of times she’d lifted jewels
willingly . . . which horned an urge to kill
in earnest this wombed softness he
screamed in; and since he had come nude,

and she could not help but see, he re-
re-felt his lust, being carboned in her brain,
she re-re-felt the hysteria
that he re-felt, so he re-re-re-felt --
Their bedroom infinite: two facing mirrors.

Blood and black hairs on the ripped veil.

[Originally published 1968, reprinted in Holding Your Eight Hands: An Anthology of Science Fiction Verse (Doubleday, 1969).]

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D.M. THOMAS was a successful poet before he achieved fame with his third novel, The White Hotel (1981), a modern classic, translated into more than thirty languages. He has won the Orwell Prize for biography and a Cholmondeley Award for poetry.

He lives with his wife Angela in his native Cornwall.