Open 11am to 8pm
Royal Festival Hall (Level 5), Southbank Centre, LondonOpen Tuesday - Sunday from 11am to 8pm
Published by Dennis Gould (1992)
(in memory of Joey Pierce/Harwood)
The blur of sky and sea
this white grey morning
before the day burns
moves into blue
the sweet butter scent of gorse
the sweet scent of you
dear daughter ghost in my head
the mudflats and saltings shine
as the children run by
along marsh edge and the high dyke bank
egret and oystercatcher dunlin and sandpiper
In the distance a train passes
where a short neat man
pushes a refreshment trolley
his clean white shirt immaculately ironed
his black waistcoat just right
the quiet dignity of him
as he passes through the hours
You’d know this the particulars
were you here
held in the wide sky arc
the children running on the dyke bank
absorbed in this world
be eating this tarte tatin
than be her
with her Audrey Tatou eyes that might
crinkle into tears or smiles
but don't quite, as she stares
intense, almost wordless
shuffling on his chair, out-gazed,
forced by embarrassment
into broken sentences
in this encounter on the edge of being
the end or perhaps the start of something –
the station buffet greasy
with hundreds of past
that for this woman, who's been here before,
for this man,
reduce to a worn half dozen possible
highs, troughs, bunglings of love,
inescapable scripts of themselves
that surely, though, could be a rewrite this time
as, now, he rests his hand on the table,
as she strokes it lightly, slowly,
as his feet, invisible to her,
say it all.
I really would.
That one sat in a soft prickly hayfield
writing her diary: ‘We visited a castle.
I have a stone from Lough Neagh, possibly marble
(see sketch on following page.)
Today is very hot again.
At lunch-time we went into a pub
and had milk mixed with soda-water.
Question: traditional Irish drink?’
This one sits in a white olive orchard
writing his diary. Dry silver trees,
bleached grass, cornflowers,
white road, silver stars
on the blue ceiling of a wayside shrine.
‘Today we went to San Damiano,
the church where Saint Francis hid from his father.’
And what would you say to that, Martha Brooks—
bringing the boy to a town full of Papists?
We must be the first among your children
to climb the worn shallow steps,
struggle back up the dusty road,
rest here. A cock crows at the farm.
Siesta-time is over, we say,
and move on up towards Assisi.
Martha, the boy is a good boy —
look at the blue eyes, the broad forehead —
and no more easily corrupted
by a taste of sanctity than I
all those years ago by holy Ireland —
not your phrase, I know, but your country:
which may all the saints protect now.