By the pool

When I asked where the blood by the hotel pool had come from,
because if it had gone into the water
it would have been diluted,
I was told a child had stubbed its toe there on the tiles.

A child had stubbed its toe in the same place
beside the pool on five different days,
it seemed.

On the five separate occasions
when I saw blood by the pool
I was given the same explanation.
I was told it was a child that had stubbed its toe.

Perhaps I had not risen early enough on the days
when it was there for me to see?

Or perhaps it was only through the negligence
of the hotel staff that I saw it at all?

But I did see it,
at the same place
on five mornings,
a messy puddle on the tiles,
smeared and streaked at its edges,
as if feet had run and slipped in it,
as if a body had been dragged through it.

I later learnt that executions
were conducted beside the pool
and that there had been executions
scheduled for the entire ten days of my stay.

I found out that the local commander,
through some quirk in his nature,
enjoyed running the risk of being found out
by a foreigner.

It would have seemed
he had a taste for the bizarre
and the theatrical.

Not only did he plan his executions
around the hotel guest list
and then leave evidence
of blood beside the pool
for foreigners to ask about;

not only was there a threadbare story
for the staff to relay,
that it had been a child which had stubbed its toe
on the tiles;

and not only did he set these events
in the brilliant white and blue
surroundings of the hotel pool:

it appeared he was also renowned
for his use of a samurai sword
as his unique means of execution
by beheading.