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Royal Festival Hall (Level 5), Southbank Centre, LondonOpen Tuesday - Sunday from 11am to 8pm
December fourth or fifth,
sinking into the solstice,
I’m finally beginning to enjoy
the darkness, even the Bremen blackness.
damp and rotting. and conquered
by crows whose late afternoon cries
are not hollow but fermenting with persistent ghosts.
Oh they are huge mosquitoes as they clamour,
swarming over the Burgerpark.
When I hear them I think of everything at once:
stale chapatis tossed out to whoever can get them;
pomegranates, Demeter, pine cones,
graveyards, Shakespeare, ten inches of snow,
foghorns, lighthouses, Ted Hughes,
not to mention Edgar Allan Poe and Bombay …
It was December fourth or fifth,
about six thirty in the morning
when I sit up thinking someone
is shining a searchlight on us
or could it be a new street lamp
just put up yesterday just outside our window?
No, no, it’s only the moon
I end up staring at, only the plump, full
moon filling up our window.
He, she, it, hermaphrodite moon,
changing its resilient sex
as it crosses over borders
from one country into another,
accomodating every language, every idea—
this chameleon moon
is laughing with white fish stuck in its
triumphant white teeth.
Only the moon laughing at me
who still wants it dark,
who still wants to sleep.
outside our window?
by hiring a boat in the fishing village of Camogli and heading off
for the waters of Zoagli. He has his hand firmly on the tiller
and he’s telling me that one day he’s going to be a champion boxer.
He’s taking me to Zoagli because he wants me to see the fish.
I don’t tell him that when he was born the fish leapt clean out of the sea
nor do I tell him that when his mother was going crazy
the fish of Zoagli flew straight into my head and flapped.
I don’t say, Son if you could open my head and let the fish go free
I might take the day off and pretend that life was sweet.
Winter is cold-hearted,
Spring is yea and nay,
Autumn is a weathercock
Blown every way.
Summer days for me
When every leaf is on its tree;
When Robin's not a beggar,
And Jenny Wren's a bride,
And larks hang singing, singing, singing,
Over the wheat-fields wide,
And anchored lilies ride,
And the pendulum spider
Swings from side to side;
And blue-black beetles transact business,
And gnats fly in a host,
And furry caterpillars hasten
That no time be lost,
And moths grow fat and thrive,
And ladybirds arrive.
Before green apples blush,
Before green nuts embrown,
Why one day in the country
Is worth a month in town;
Is worth a day and a year
Of the dusty, musty, lag-last fashion
That days drone elsewhere.
The pelicans in St James’ Park are eating pigeons
whole. Perhaps there’s a casual, regal cruelty at work,
or they’re doing it because they can. Whatever.
All you’ll find in their expressions,
if you’d call them expressions,
is the old lie of animal wisdom, that dinosaur clever.
And the pigeons - do they know it
as they’re packed down the pink flower-flute,
the yawning, purpled spout folding feathers,
snapping wings, bird-bone, bird-skull?
Something’s clasped by the curled claws
sticking from a jumping gullet - a symptom
invited from the ragged edges of our vision,
a fever-beat upon the brain, the dumpety-dum
of new diseases dancing in the sun. Days of doubletaking.
We notice, not for the first time, the shoulders of statues
are dappled with crap. Our own shoulders, too.
As ever, the birds eat, shit, turn. But their eyes
seem shifty now, their persecuting cries announce
a moment’s gone, nothing new’s arrived.