He sat us down, played to us records
that he loved, did this loudly though
no-one could hear him. It is either
sixty seconds or sixty years since
we last spoke; All forget, as we
tend to. Amongst friends, we declared
a world holiday: a marble statue alive,
dedicated, commands the garden.
As daughter, I sit on his knee;
he waits, perfectly still-practised.
Afterwards, I find you, run to you
as watcher at daybreak for the Sun King-
at the roadside where we stood
I laughed, childlike, took your hand:
knew it; uncorrupted like the flowers
we picked that morning in my sleep.
Strauss’s four last songs
qualifies my residency
at Joe Chamberlain Hotel, Birmingham.
The rooms being familiar,
I bathe, prepare myself.
Down the corridor
towards the exit,
sound from other places.
It is Vivaldi-
I thought to get
an organ in there.
(The suite at the end
of my floor
I have a vision:
I am Prometheus
to the Thames-
This grandeur is interrupted
by the noise next door.
Sinking into my bed with
gin as my protection,
how I got started
was with you-
promised to Jacob.
saw them grow,
at the stroke
when the porter
At the sound
of the alarm,
the television at my feet
that we must
and lifts arrive
to carry us down
In my own journey of the Magi,
footsteps fell at the Calle de Fabbri.
It was midnight and the shop I visited
was open-one of those that sells Adriactico.
Our appointment was at the hour that the lord bid:
Glory be to the father, son and holy ghost,
I crossed not one but twelve bridges
to see you angry at me-
standing as the Republic did.
On the technical question,
there was no doubt you were
a fine piece of architecture-
preserved, unknown even to yourself.
Dressed for cocktails at seven
we met earlier at San Marco-
it was warm for the time of year,
your husband was absent,
I had a copy of the Blue Guide with me.
As there were no motor cars,
I impressed you with churches-
which look like entrances to hell
at times when the conversation was lively.
Retiring to bed, I remember Byron’s dictum:
‘I loved your sister, too. Did you know that?
Weeping, I ran from the house;
it was the first thing written
by the door: Dante.
I jogged past my life,
at the roadside,
the path itself was straight.
Saw on the left, hills
that looked up as old soldiers regret.
Came closer to what I had thought:
a field obscured from the road
and through a gap,
a white horse stood
as ambition had done.
Proud, curious for a moment,
it put its head down to graze
in pastures green and decorated.
Starting to rain, the breeze
spoke to me as if sent.
Only now shall I run faster
into the darkness that bore me
on a track getting me lost,
in unkept places where light
is absent and friends
could not show their tears
as descent began
and candles remained unlit.
Bonus time follows spring
Cheapside’s peace threatened by sheep
Masses of small specks flooding a green field
Beneath the Barbican.
A man walks down Cornhill muttering
About borrowings, buys the evening paper, decides
To hurl a brick through the window of the
Jampot where he used to drink with ghostly
Organists like Mendelssohn.
In his head, too, he is reciting nonsense verse:
Who gets what and who exactly are the sheep, the goats,
Beautiful Miss Hunt crosses her legs repeatedly,
Distracting the head of personnel,
A forty something territorial with a mistress in Finance,
Who credits the group with five rather than six.
On this basis: marry me to it.
Kitchens promised: wives to wait, the holiday in
A tuneful substitute for promises this summer
Which follows this spring is the City.
A series of bizarre incidents –
bicycles stolen, roads torn up,
people (strangers) without
sound. At the line with Belgium,
sentries marching on Delft:
discovering oil. Normality only
resumed after a televised appeal.
Plus parts of Paris, of course,
from where text messages told
of similar prophecies on the
Seine. In the galleries, it was
good weather to reduce plague
conditions. There was no war
and no peace, just waiting at Via
Condotti for something. A radio,
playing at the feet of a young
Roman, announced: ‘Virtual
Love compasses the earth; its
charms elderly before Sutra
or the Arab deal.’ After
broadcast, I saw Dutch women
sail up the Thames, burn London
and retire to Germany – so old
bankers could drive them around
Munich in private partnerships.