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Ruth Padel

Suppose that yesterday

the face you most want to see beside you


turned up all over the papers.

Just, say, a bit of it, smile and eyes


throwing out frontpage, over the mast-head logo,

that lisp of a look that curls your heart


to bits. You’d be jolted, wouldn’t you?

All day he’s lying doggo


on doorsteps, careening through the Tube.

Why are copies of the bloody thing still hanging about


imbued with the swamp fluorescence

of late-night Safeways, next to Esquire?


The headline could have been ‘‘world war”

or “major rift with Mars”


for all you saw. But today

they’re throwing him away. Deadwood. Lumber


for recycling. He can come to you now.

File him sixty-nine times over if you like -


or three, best number for sudden gift: see under

Stravinsky’s humming birds


who lit on him in exile. “They settle

on my hand. Axtlel. Celesto. Java.”

From Magma No. 10, Summer 1997

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