Dominique Hecq – The Lord of Rats…

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Four December 2022.

The lord of rats and eke of mice, poems by Dominique Hecq. 

The lord of rats and eke of mice

The room was choked with chairs so worn grey motes rose from
the seat covers, like mushrooms out of their mycelium. One by
one, the chairs filled up. Kids sat on the floor, perched on
armrests or hung from chandeliers. A rat with a clipboard took
down names. A white wolf padded through the door, brushed
past heavy violet velour curtains, swivelled dramatically on its
paws, moved upward, as if working out the beast, and faced us.
A vulture flew through the window, settled on the table, slouched
slightly and surveyed the mountains of eyeballs, blue beards,
black teeth, torn fingernails, the fields of tiny rhinoceros horns
and horse hooves and lion manes, the rivers of miracled moths
and caterpillars and earwigs. A meerkat with a monocle pushed
the vulture forward. Nodded in the direction of a sphinx whose
eyes glowed. The floorboards shook. An eke of mice. We held
our inky scalpels aloft. Ate.

The title is taken from Goethe’s Faust, Chapter III.

The line ‘Move upward, working out the beast’ is from
Tennyson’s In Memoriam, CXVIII.


Sugar free? Not a problem, monsieur, said the waiter, a smile
momentarily sweetening his sour face. We have an exclusive
carte of sugar free desserts. Les oeufs à la neige, of course, from
our own free range silkie hens, are quite succulent. The egg
whites are poached in simmering goat’s milk and served on
warm vanilla infused custard topped with dazzling dahlias. Les
cœurs à la crème are divine but, naturally, more calorific. They
are served with passionfruit coulis, crème fraiche and violets. Le
Paris Brest, our chef’s specialty is sculpted out of gluten free
choux pastry, then filled with alcohol free Cognac infused crème
fraiche and topped with dark sugar free Godiva chocolate,
toasted almond flakes and a sprinkle of pure vanilla bean frost.
It is served with crimson nasturtiums reclining on soft peaks of
clouds made to the chef’s secret meringue recipe. Deep breath.
The almond jalousie is also sugar free; it is sweetened with
organic raw blue agave—fairtrade certified. It is served with hot
pink glams and zero alcohol Grand Marnier cream. Very popular
are the mini cream horns baked until golden and crisp. They are
filled with crème fraiche just before serving on a bed of
snapdragons and violas—to die for. Last, but not least, we have
les poires exquises poached in sugar free alcohol free sulphate
free Sauterne imported from the Caves du Dauphin in Reims
—the pears are fructose free. At that, the ecstatic waiter closed his
eyes, upturned his face and whispered: they are calorie free.

Dressed to the nines

Ø took the lift up to the ninth floor. She opened the gate. Saw
that the door was ajar. Knocked. No answer. She pushed the door
open, softly. The room was dark but a light coming from the
bathroom cast a triangular shape on the teal carpet, making it
look like the Mediterranean on an overcast day. Ø ambled to the
bathroom. An octopus filled the toilet bowl. Its head was
wreathed in dreadlocks writhing like snakes. Lipstick had been
smeared around its beak. One tentacle had been cut off and it
dangled like Marat’s arm in Jacques-Louis David’s famous
painting. The knife was still attached to the appendage stuck to
the shower recess. The octopus was so thin it would have been
floating had it not been weighed down by costume jewellery.
Amid the fake pearls and diamonds was a huge pendant of the
kind some wear with a lock of hair curled inside. Ø opened it.
Saw her own withered face in faded sepia.

© Dominique Hecq

Dominique Hecq grew up in the French-speaking part of Belgium. She now lives on unceded sovereign Wurundjeri land. Hecq writes across genres and disciplines—and sometimes across tongues. Her creative works include a novel, five collections of short stories and twelve books of poetry. A runner up in the Carmel Bird Literary Digital Award, Smacked and other stories of addiction is fresh off the press. The second edition of After Cage: a composition in word and movement on time and silence has also been released (Liquid Amber Press). Con Brio was awarded second prize in the James Tate Poetry Prize and is forthcoming (SurVision).

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