The Claude Glass

1997 and a circle of students have learnt The Lady Of Shallot by heart.

In other parts, they are the big brass band and year seven perform a city coming to life.

Synthesized popcorn summons each player, city slicker, tourist, window cleaner, homeless.

Romeo and Juliet stand on desks and chairs to get the levels right. Not today, miss, I’m on my period.

Further away, the markets, wedding dress shops, and Skipton Castle.

An old oak tree fills the small courtyard and Juliet eats hot new potatoes with olive oil and salt out of a paper bag.

I climb a new mountain on the other side of the world and look back at it all through my Claude Glass.

Hardlines

The softness of folded letters

And finding some degree of similarity

Is a paradox

On this estate

Part public, part private

Partings of ways and manners

What was once important

Is smoothed over

On common ground

Where we live

Near Lovers Park

The survivor’s delicatessen

Suspended in air

Two balloons scrape our chimney

Lowry’s empty sky

There isn’t a breath

Of wind to keep us here

-they holler

We run outside

And help fold the sheets

On promised land.

On the shelf

Fortitude

Is that a word?

Walking with a fragile heart

Drawing conclusions.

Spine

The big sleep

Sounds appealing

All our secrets

Running wild

Arrival

Lightfast interior

No black and white photograph

Just two of earth’s own.

Spring

Score pacts through red clay

Fingertip wavy ink trails

Gathering the prey.

Summer

Blood’s sudden distance

In the need for possession

Your disgust haunts me.

Autumn

Ceremonial

Leaves an absence of colour

Still unfastened day.

Departure

Fish, bird, skin held taut

Language, tribe, vast stretch of land

Between you and I.

Delusions of Candour

The suitably informed

Won’t look beyond their first source

That tells them what they knew all along

They’re right and you, of course, are wrong.

Blind panic

I am a mouse.

Timid. Listening.

Scrambling.

I’ll die.

You are a rock.

Human. Vast.

Beautiful!

My shelter in winter.

You see me and despair.

We’ll live.