Open 11am to 8pm
Royal Festival Hall (Level 5), Southbank Centre, LondonOpen Tuesday - Sunday from 11am to 8pm
for Lloyd Haft
I was in a very dark place then,
the poet said, as he handed
me the volume and I can tell
from the lines that he thought,
this is it, how to get used to it.
London is getting ready for leaf,
for night, like us moving
in the lit up bus for warmth
beneath a dented moon.
Cranes guard Waterloo Bridge
where a woman swings a banana skin
by the stalk, seen through the smudge
of grease from a rested head. The man
beside me eyes my red leather shoes
and white ankles – no tights.
I am not coming home from work,
I am coming home from reading.
You can hum and think at the same time.
You can be in the city’s belly
and sit in deep silence.
I pass out of the bus behind
my neighbour and could call to him
but the city has not healed me enough.
He walks ahead in a grey suit,
fingers already playing the piano,
as if counting up his secret joys.
I’m singing, ‘Yellow River,
Yellow River, you’re in my mind,
you’re the place I love’,
and am half-way through the chorus
before I realise it.
When the doctor cut off my son’s cast the
high scream of the saw filled the room
and the boy’s lap was covered with fluff like the
chaff of a new thing emerging, the
down in the hen-yard. Down the seam that
runs along the outside of the arm and
up the seam along the inside — that
line where the colour of a white boy’s arm
changes like a fish from belly-white to prismatic,
the saw ranged freely — the saw that does not cut flesh,
the doctor told us, smiling. Then the
horrible shriek ran down in a moment to nothing
and he took a sharp silver wedge like a
can-opener and jimmied at the cracks
until with a creak the glossy white
false arm cracked and there lay the kid’s
sweet dirty forearm, thin as a darkened twig.
He lifted it in astonishment, like a gift,
It’s so light! he cried, a lot of light coming out of his eyes,
he fingered it and grinned, he picked up the
halves and put them together and gripped it and
carried it out through the waiting room and
everyone smiled the way you smile at a wedding, so
deep in us the desire to be healed and joined.