Dave Stacey, The Isle of Man

The Isle of Man

Of course people thought it was a sign —
why wouldn’t they — when the vast six-pointed
craft taxied down over the Irish Sea,
only a few hundred yards out from Peel harbour.

Iain, outside the Creek Inn, tugging away
at his umpteenth roll-up on this black, bitter night,
was perhaps the first to see the multicoloured
lights as they descended, Christmas Eve

having, over the course of the last few rounds,
just given way to Christmas Day. Or maybe
it was young Grace, kneeling on her bed,
gaping out between mismatched twin drapes

and getting more, much more, than she’d
bargained for? Either way, shock and awe
quickly ceded ground to the deep-seated
desire to point and share. And within a breath

this strange, hulking titan, this holy star,
this lit-up-like-a-festive-tree entity, glittered
across the internet. A camera crew was dispatched
by van from Douglas, across the other side

of the isle. Helicopters from the mainland
were likewise secured. But none arrived in time.
The TV people, the reporters, the whole global 24-hour
news audience, they all missed the towering bit:

when the music began to play. Those still up in Peel,
and those since awoken, looking out of windows,
or who’d made their way to the quayside,
or stood in streets with a view, when

subsequently interviewed, could not recall
a single note, not a jot, nothing. The phone videos
bizarrely captured no sound either. But each witness
attested to being mesmerised, captivated,

spellbound. Music like you’ve never heard before
or could ever conceive. Perfect is the word they
all used. Just perfect. As though this thought had
somehow been implanted. At some point,

the alien craft began to spin, rising slowly at first
then in a flash vortexing up and away, leaving
the music behind, before sucking it up in its wake.
And the residents of Peel, in the now hollow

silence, released from their hypnotic trance,
looked at one another, in coats over dressing
gowns, some crying, but calm, and they hugged
and they pressed foreheads and they held.

*

It was too dark, though, and too distant, for any
to observe the pod of Minke whales that had appeared
at the surface the other side of St Patrick’s Isle, circling
the spot beneath which our visitors had hovered.

*

The whole thing was of course an elaborate hoax,
cooked up by locals to boost tourism to the port.
Self-proclaimed experts, in YouTube shorts,
demonstrated how, using readily available

software, the photos and phone-caught video
clips had been doctored. Investigative journalists
even identified the ringleaders, a middle-aged
gay couple behind some of the more inventive

crop circles of the nineties, since relocated
to Peel. The usual nutters, as per, didn’t buy
any of that and turned up in their new age droves
each Christmas, seeking to recreate

the music, which none of them had heard,
with electronic spools and flutes
and didgeridoos, and aiming to replicate
the rapture using ket or MDMA. Plus a number

of strange offshoots of Christian sects also sought
to get in on the act. But Iain and Grace
and the others, they now all knew exactly
how the gods must feel, unencumbered

by human frailty, and so carried on their lives
unchanged, as before, just the same. And while
peace may not have reigned upon this land
ever after, one strange fact, that nobody has yet

connected, is the minuscule, but with a precision
hydrophone perceptible, and to cetologists perplexing,
evolvement in whale song—slowly spreading
from the north through the depths of the globe.

Dave Stacey is based in London. His poems have appeared in Dodging The Rain, plus Ink, Sweat and Tears, Eye Flash, The Cabinet of Heed, Gyroscope Review, and other journals.

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