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Royal Festival Hall (Level 5), Southbank Centre, LondonOpen Tuesday 12 noon - 6 pm, Wednesday to Sunday 12 noon – 8 pm
Reading from Southbank Centre's Poetry Parnassus festival, 2012
You tread softlyAs if the earth is made of snow.
Gesturing broadly to your guest:“This is where our great memorial will be.”
You lower your gaze;Your guest follows your lead.
The memory of war pierces you;Your tears drop like blood.
Pause.Poetry is rising.
Our graves beneath you:An inverted heaven.
A sliver of a sunflowerUnfolds to meet the sun.
Children of freedom:Dip your pensDeep into our souls;We have made ink.
Nobody knows what stuff we keep locked up
before the sentence starts. I thought to study
timeless things, as out of character
as crime for me, mosaics, wild flowers,
Bridge in the Telegraph. In fact, prison
still has its way with me, and getting out
was no escape, I found, patching myself
in the Gents at the desolate station, swearing
I’m never going back there again—when the train
slid off without me, from a side platform.
So I struggled across rails and broken weed,
ragwort, blagwort, across expanding wasteland,
just to yell at the vanishing guard, Hey, thanks,
sarcastically—but he’d no need to listen;
for when I turned to look right and left for witness,
what came next? It threatened to run me down.