Open 11am to 8pm
Royal Festival Hall (Level 5), Southbank Centre, LondonOpen Tuesday - Sunday from 11am to 8pm
Now the swift spring makes our bed uneasy
and bruised earth scents the evening ;
flowers walk beneath the pavements
shaking the city and the street
standards have put out leaves.
The white shoot leans to the light
and the moth courts the weeping candle ;
neighbours are lovers and
the statues discover syllables
to release their tongues.
Later we may remember
a little of their language when
another spring frees the fountain,
but between the seasons lies
the death of flowers, the winter and a bed
cold with the lack of love.
The tons of brick and stone, the yards of piping,
the sinks and china basins, three toilets, the tiles,
and the tons of wood in floors, chairs, tables,
the yards of flex and cable that wrap the house
like a net, the heavy glassed front door, the gate
onto the street, the rippled sheets of window,
the yew tree by the back, the pictures, books, piano:
what would it all weigh? One kiss, one breathed
declaration, and there it is: the mass of love.
Early on it was uncomfortable.
Patches of rough skin thickened on my back
and spread quickly like psoriasis.
I took a few heavy steps
as my clothes tattered into chains of ivy
round my legs. I was thirsty, thirsty.
The tips of my fingers forked and forked again,
shivered into leaf.
A hot singing in the soles of my feet,
then the splintering of roots
like new teeth. I welcomed the pain
because it meant they were through.
They knew their own purpose,
snaking into the earth
and dragging up water.
No more sense in movement,
in searching and striving
and all that truthless speech and touch.
Just simple encounters:
birds making casual use of my branches,
sheep coming to me for shelter.
Nothing to get done
but to suck in light,
translate it into green.
Although I only use a few
its rack of buttons feels familiar
– a scientific calculator
to school kids yet to work out pi.
I play the channels with one thumb,
cross by stepping stones of touch,
touch, touch from floodlit football pitch
to chat show guest, to this sit com.
But now I’ll have to share the thing,
give up my relay race from news
to news, budge over for someone else
to sit, with tired legs, strange
tastes. She points afresh: to archive
lifestyles…jobs I once considered,
places I thought I’d one day live.
Turn off your phone.
Place it, face down,
on cold sandstone: that oxblood-red back-step
she buffed for sixty years.
past the well-kept lawn, its marrow stripes
while radio waves walk through walls,
bark, bone and steel:
congregate to a signal.
Rest your eyes beyond the fence
on the trunks of birch that ebb into the wood.
Feel those white trees breathe.
of branch and leaf may offer some relief.
Whether they do or don't,
after a time you must pick up your phone,
face its empty screen:
turn it on again.