This is what happened
the dead were settling in under their mud roof
and something was shuffling overhead
it was a badger treading on the thin partition
And thus said the girl, the wolf, the moment,
“You will live, knowing what you have done. You will receive no mercy.”
“I love you,” said the girl and then left to live with another. A changeling who had his face and only one of his hearts.
“My what big teeth you have,” he said to the wolf.
“All the better to eat you with,” said the wolf as it ate and ate. Ate the emperor and all his enemies, ate him out of one body and into the next. But spared the girl, there would be mercy for her, always mercy.
“I forgive you,” said the moment, the box, the little god. “Let me save you, let me show you how to save yourself.”
Give a man a fish and he’ll be fed for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll never be hungry again. Save a man’s life, and he’ll be safe for a day, teach a man to save his own life and….well the story just keeps going, you know what happens next.
bewildered were the dead
going about their days and nights in the dark
putting their feet down carefully and ﬁnding themselves ﬂoating
Once upon a time, there was a barn in a desert and a little boy who was very, very afraid. “I know you’re afraid,” said the monster under his bed. “It’s alright,” said the monster, for it was a kind monster and it was sorry it had scared him. “It’s alright to be afraid as long as you don’t let it make you cruel or cowardly.” (It would make him cowardly sometimes, it would make him cruel.)
but that badger
still with the simple heavy box of his body needing to be lifted
was shuffling away alive
“Be a doctor,” said the monster, and so the little boy was for a time. A doctor of medicine and hope and mischief and jelly babies and mercy, always mercy. Until he came back to the barn and was a doctor of war, was not a doctor at all. And the moment that looked like a girl but was actually a wolf…no we’re getting caught up in where we’ve already been, stories are funny, a big mess of timey-wimey nonsense.
hard at work
with the living shovel of himself
into the lane he dropped
not once looking up
The monster told him to be a doctor over and over again, so he did. The monster told him so many times she became a doctor herself. And she left him. She left him again. In order to be the doctor, one must be alone in all the ways that matter. Or maybe not in all the ways that matter, but alone in the end, alone when you don’t want to be. So the boy became a doctor then a man then a woman (or maybe it was the other way around, memories are tricky like that, especially when you’ve had so many stolen) and she found herself alone, alone and the doctor.
and missed the sight of his own corpse falling like a suitcase towards him
with the grin like an opened zip
(as I found it this morning)
When you have lived for thousands of years (four and a half billion years) you just get tired, tired of loving every little human you meet. (Not little, never little, they are giants remember, giants with the hearts of mayflies.) So you tell them nothing, you tell them the universe is beautiful and nothing ever dies (they already know this is a lie, but they want to believe it). You tell them there is no war and you, you are a doctor of peace, of candy floss, and childish things. You don’t tell them you have always been and always will be a doctor of war.
And they look no further. Maybe it’s not completely her fault, because they look no further. For all their curiosity and wonder at every world she shows them, they never look at her. They never ask Doctor who? And she will let them. Until the Master, until Gallifrey, until everything is burning and she has forgotten how to breathe.
and went on running with that bindweed will of his
went on running along the hedge and into the earth again
Cause here’s the important thing, I lied earlier, the moment never taught the doctor how to save himself, for all it tried. Despite every version of him that came, nothing changed. It only changed because of the monster, it only changed because there was once a girl called Rose Tyler, once a girl called Martha Jones and Donna Noble and Amelia Pond and River Song and Clara Oswald and Bill Potts and Sarah Jane Smith and Barbara Wright and Jo Grant and, and it just keeps going. She is the Doctor and she has never learned how to heal herself. And despite all the Fam’s love for her, despite the fact that there is a girl called Yasmin Khan who looks at her like she holds the universe (and she has), they can not heal something they do not know is broken, they can not put together a smashed jug that they never saw the shape of. But they try, they will try. Sometimes she thinks they might succeed.
as if in a broken jug for one backwards moment
water might keep its shape