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Royal Festival Hall (Level 5), Southbank Centre, LondonOpen Tuesday - Sunday from 11am to 8pm
Poem card series created by the Edwin Morgan Trust and Carcanet Press as part of #EdwinMorgan100 in 2020
I walk the alleys trampled through the wheat,
Through whole blue summer eves, on velvet grass.
Dreaming, I feel the dampness at my feet;
The breezes bathe my naked head and pass.
I do not think a single thought, nor say
A word, but in my soul the mists upcurl
Of infinite love. I will go far away
With nature, happily, as with a girl.
Everyone stood outside their front door.
As the clock struck eight they began to clap
slowly as if someone was coming on stage
but as more in the street joined in, they clapped
louder and louder as if they were freeing
something within, perhaps a patient who never
had the opportunity to thank everyone
who looked after them when they were ill.
Everyone was clapping all over the country
banging lids, pots. Fireworks lit the sky.
Their spirits zoomed. They felt how a patient
must feel when administered good news.
Their hands will never finish clapping.
Everyone has been a patient.
Everyone’s hearts are clapping.
As long as hearts clap, hands will too.
It was the dark bread my mother fed me
to pacify my tears.
When I saw it on the kitchen table
I knew it meant departure.
She’d be slicing it into squares,
loading it with butter as he kissed me: as he
gently unhooked my hands from his neck
and walked out to the car.
She’d be laying it in a brown circle
on the big blue plate
as I watched the Renault rise over the hill.
She’d give it me with warm milk and honey.
The butter thickened in my mouth,
spread itself like wet silk in my throat.
I’d mould each slice into a small lump
until the raisins bled black juices
and my fingertips were slick with grease,
I’d squeeze it like the clay he let me play with:
the stuff we dug from river banks
spiced with bracken, loam and willow bark.
My mother would keep slicing and spreading
until I stopped crying: once I ate a whole loaf.
Now the spices seem too sinister for comfort.
The molasses jars my palette, reminds me
of tar, long roads and car doors slamming.
I do not like the taste of desertion.