Here we are, half way. You can put your feet up, have a rest, look at the view, look back and see where we’ve been. Right. That’s long enough. We’re off again.
When all this is over, said the mime,
I’ll craft my voice out of this blue light
to have it sound the way I always wanted,
as if I’d never so much as peeled off
the plastic sleeve of a pack of cigarettes.
My hands will finally know the matter
of human flesh, and soil, and tweed,
those things I touched but were never there.
Or if they’re by then stunted beyond repair,
there might be someone else’s in their place
to ground my coffee beans,
tear off all those photographs I don’t want to see,
call my loved ones for a final farewell
through a bright-red telephone that’s not made of air.
When all this is over I’ll sleep for a week
With no sounds of alarm clocks
But the quiet of peace
When all this is over I’ll shop till I drop
And just cos I can
I’ll visit ten different shops
When all this is over I’ll wear satin and lace
I will notice the sun
And the breeze on my face
When all this is over I’ll pray for the dead
The old and infirm
Left to die in their beds
When all this is over
I’ll ask WHY?
The Nit Nurse
When this is all over, said the nit nurse
I will retire to a cottage
in a valley where no one knows my name
I ’ll be viewed with curiosity and
to some degree, acceptance .
I will grow my uncombed hair,
wreathe it with flowers, wear skirts
of rippling silk In rainbow hues,
muslin blouses, soft around my unbound breasts
and take a long haired lover,
young and strong and lie in summer meadows
sifting his curls with expert fingers,
my wayward hair spread wide
One full moon I’ll slip away ,
my black bag stuffed with lotions, shampoos, coal tar soap
and cruel combs of hard, bright steel ,
and hurl them down the mouth of my deep well
and be at peace in my garden,
a wildness of roses. I shall dream of lines
of clean children, sheaves of bright hair
and my fingers, touching their heads as they pass
Opera on the moors
for Anna Barry
As she planted tomatoes
she whistled a tune from Phantom
imagined their vine-scent gathering in the darkness
She sang to the soil.
She conducted the clouds.
As she disinfected the shopping packaging
(fusilli, passata, parmesan)
she hummed an aria from Carmen.
She kept her volume in check
not wanting to alarm the neighbours
at their barbecue or sun bathing.
She walked up on to the moors. Alone.
And as she walked it crescendoed.
This irrepressible need to sing it out.
Anyone within a mile
could hear her 120 decibel burst
from Dido and Aeneas.
You don’t dump Euterpe, she dumps you
When this is all over, said the organist –
people say that, don’t they?
Like you can get up and leave,
not look back. Push your chair into the sun,
forget. Take up golf, or gardening.
But they don’t have the music in them.
When this is all over – we don’t say that here,
don’t tempt fate. The day you wake up
to a shaking hand, a foot that won’t sit
on the pedals, can’t hear the bass note,
or the treble. Death.
Slow, silent imprisonment in the ordinary.
When this is all over –
every musician knows that music never ends:
sound just fades into silence,
silence is just a different kind of sound.
Listen – the birds, the tick of that clock.
See how the trees are swaying like singers.
When this is all over , said the orthodontist
I will master the art of losing myself,
seek wide open space to stretch my legs
like a Thomson gazelle, make time
to see things in gap-stone stiles. I want
to turn up unannounced, observe and learn
dance steps of nearby insects, join in
as stamen tongues wag in flowerbeds.
I will allow myself to stay up late, tune
into night orchestra of new instruments;
knit neurons to needleclack beat
of unclosed taps, make ambient fridge
belly rumbles, banshee car and ambulance
alarms the soundtrack to my new life.
Don’t worry. It’s a long way to go yet, and splendid views on the way. See you all tomorrow.