To be honest, I’ve not been looking forward to today. Last post (in the series). But I promise you, it’s a good one. Like all the others. Thank you all for following.
X-rays are my life
When this is all over I shall shed tears of blackened silver
But then it’s not silver anymore
So maybe I shall shed pixels
But it’s all pictures
with beauty and sadness
Surprises and sameness
A tree in bud
A fissure found
A neoplasm blossoming unexpected
No vague hope of vaccines just prayer
His Triumph of death
And hope was less that tides could be turned and breath could be saved
But also that crowns came with thorns
Fluffy shadows on a screen
The puff and wheeze of air and spit and sweat and shit
And tears over phones
No hands to be held
Without plastic and masks
How will I leave those shadows behind?
A Xylophonist reflects
When this is all over
and the C# Minor strains of the requiem’s
final movement dissolve and fade,
when the world is open for business again
and I’m free to go anywhere I choose
I’ll choose to sit on the banks of the Congo
in the shade of a great mninga tree
eat nyembwe with saka saka
and let my instrument speak
to its ancestors, rediscover the peace
of connection, hear the music of a warm
breath of wind over its wingfruit,
its coral wood. When this is all over,
I want to discover a new normal
away from the accelerando and allegro
away from the march and symphony,
in the quiet hymnal of the forest,
find the largo I fear I’ve lost.
Yachtswoman in the Doldrums
after Eilean Ni Chuilleanain
When this is all over I’ll ride
waves, hold the helm light
enough to steer a course,
let this boat sheer her keel,
keen to the winds of chance.
I’ll chart my route to any
port in a storm – bring on
that storm, blot out those
sharp stars – break mirrors.
Snatched by sea bird squalls,
wondering about the fuss
of sitting here stock still
bound by flat seas on all sides.
I’ll be flying – hoist! Hoist!
Seven years on, I’ll be laughing.
When all this is over, said the zamindar,
the tenants will queue at my door to press their taxes
into my sapphire-ringed hands, along with gifts,
water-buffalo, rice, and from time to time
their most beautiful daughters.
I will of course decline
at first. My ten per cent
will go towards building a bigger palace
with daring frescoes copied from Isfahan
in the private rooms, and peacocks in the gardens.
will get off his high horse and bow to me.
I’ll requisition the horse. I’ll organise
polo on the maidan, and champagne cocktails
afterwards on the verandah. There’ll be none of this
insolence or elections or journalism.
Zamindar: in the Indian sub-continent, a landowner who collected taxes on behalf of the Mughal and later British ruler
The Zinc Plater
When this is all over
I will never clean again.
Dust will gather on the surfaces
in balls and motes the size of mice.
I’ll run my fingers through it;
let the breeze release it like pollen.
I will pickle only food: rough-skinned gherkins,
slick aubergines, the hard whites of onions.
There will be no baths, no bathing.
I will wash at the Belfast sink with water
from my own well, water I heaved
from the dank earth, water that stinks
of moss and peat. I will swim
in silt-clouded rivers and nothing
will be rinsed away.
I will live by the light of gas lamps
or candles; the honeyed scent
of bee’s wax. There will be
no electricity, for me.
My skin will be tanned mahogany
by red flakes falling from my corrugated roof,
my boots will crust with it, my white linen
will blush with it.
When this is all over, nothing
will be smoothed to a mirror-shine
and no surface will be untrue to itself.
after Eilean Ni Chuilleanain
When this is all over, said the zookeeper,
I’ll move to the North, where
property is cheaper and they have hedges,
drystone walls – fewer fences or railings.
I’ll roam the Cumbrian fells, watch ravens
soar through the blue, pick heather,
stomp through the bog grasses, laugh
like a hyena at the full moon.
Listen, I can do this, learn how to let go,
run with the ants and spiders,
bounce with the bees.
I’ll follow my nose to the dark
corners (under stones, behind bark)
I’ll root out the undiscovered,
the unloved, place them in my heart,
beside the tiger, elephant, chimpanzee.
And here we are, at the very end . Whatever will I do with my time? Hang on…there’s the selection, then the announcements, the joy and the despair, the re-editing. Not the very end at all.
And in any case, I almost forgot that we started with a Prologue poem by Ian Parks, and we’ll end this leg of the journey with a stunning Epilogue ,a reflection on the ultimate when this is all over, from the endlessly prolific and multi-talented Jane Burn..
On the idea of leaving a part of myself wherever my ancestors lie
A piece of me left to the absent coal
and the village that failed above its death –
to Ireland, ringed by the sea’s aureole
ever binding the secret of my kith.
A piece of me left to the scrapman’s cart
like a glint of tin in the gathered trash.
To Scotland and its beating selkie heart,
I will gift my changeling pelt of fired ash.
It will end with me, this birthright of scars.
The sky will carry my epitaph. Jane,
you did not rise up. You were not the stars.
here you were made and here you will remain.
Wherever my kin are cloistered beneath
I will lay my ghost like a coffin’s wreath.
Falling leaves return to their roots : Chinese Proverb