Open 11am to 8pm
Royal Festival Hall (Level 5), Southbank Centre, LondonOpen Tuesday - Sunday from 11am to 8pm
That hue of light you find on a summer afternoon
when a rain storm batters the gardens, stitches the heavy river.
Like dusk but not.
You and I in a room set with windows overlooking that river.
A room panelled with large mirrors, long smoky mirrors
whose foxed glass reflects our dusky selves, maybe our ghosts.
And inbetween – the window seats and views of a flowing
That this 17th century pavilion, built for privacy and banquets,
could have been where voyages were planned, trade calculated
and profit, much profit, inbetween the laughter.
That the elaborate maze-like gardens that surround this pavilion
are where people wandered talking,
are where we will soon wander in a fine rain
unaware of anything beyond, caught in the moment’s delight
as we weave our way through the flower beds, the sunken
the arched corridors of wysteria, pergolas of laburnum,
honey scented lime walks, our myths and histories laid aside.
Floating in any century, timeless, we romantically imagine.
If the myths were put aside, and we… ?
Would the mirrors be clear and glitter? a rainbow
flickering on their bevelled edges? I doubt it.
“So what are you going to do
with the rest of your life?”
Crouching in my arms against this old army shirt,
breathing the tin taste of my day's sweat, she
says nothing and concerns herself with her pre-
carious balance, the tightwire she walks from
fleshcage to fleshcage.
This is her scene, and it is quite right among the
bongos sounding through the wall,
John the Lush pounding bad riffs on a borrowed drum,
splintered, frenetic, out on the slippery edge of
And up the airshaft sounding the toilet-edge vomit
of a nameless drunk, Gallo tokay, you can puke all
day, tired past dismay.
This is her scene, this quiet crouch within bad sounds,
surrounded by her ten cent shoes and her yesterday's
pants and her just-in-case jar of peanut butter, this
crouch against my shirt with her nose in my sweat.
She is nervous on three bennies and has tentative soft
fantasies about spooks and she will stay a little
while if I don't hold her too tightly.
I have lived like a priest in this bare room three
months and to have her here, a sad tired robin,
well, I feel honored and a little incredulous.
Orange lipstick on my pillowcase and the smell of her
in my beard are enough to make me hum in private, a
luxury of long ago.
And if the poem fails it is not because her smile is
not beautiful to touch.
The fog that is like but more rare
The wind that is like but not so sharp
The sand that is like but turns to mud
The hills that are like but more peopled
The flowers that are like but bloom earlier
The beach that is like but more crowded
The summers that are like but darken quickly
The air that is like but not so sweet
By the well of Thalmi, Ino my bride
come out of your house, come out in the night
with ship gods as well as land gods,
with bronze statues on the island
in the open air of Pephnos,
with the whiter than usual ants.
See the owls swoop down from the tower
on dark wires sure as death,
hunting in pairs back and forth
threading the night.
My mind empties around the tower
of Kapetanios Christeas and into the sea;
my old neighbour sings at night,
her imperfect beautiful voice
rises for no-one or the moon, Ino, for no-one
or the dark ocean wrapped around the world.