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THE NETHER PORTAL

Fifty years ago the garden of what is now

our house was five times its present size –

a garden that had been a field, and a heath.

A builder turned an orchard, borders

and most of a lawn into three modern

terraced houses and eight lock-up garages.

Part of what remained of the lawn was a dump.

 

Occasionally odd things still turn up –

like bits clinker, rusted iron, and, today,

a small piece of coal, of anthracite,

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ON WESTMINSTER BRIDGE

‘Earth has not anything to show more fair:

Dull would he be of soul who could pass by

A sight so touching in its majesty.’

COMPOSED ON WESTMINSTER BRIDGE, SEPTEMBER 3, 1802

William Wordsworth

 

After their slow revolve on the London Eye,

the kingdom’s power nexus spread beneath them –

palaces, churches, offices, parade grounds –

many tourists walk across the bridge.

 

Today industrial scale ‘Find The Lady’

awaits them: six identical sets of mats,

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IN PRAISE OF HERB ROBERT

Not the Michelin two star French restaurant

in the Kentish High Weald, nor the West Coast

jazz saxophonist who sessioned with Brubeck,

but the British woodland wild flower, or weed.

 

There are two definitions of ‘weed’ –

the official: a wild plant growing

where it is not wanted; and mine: a plant

whose existence is not dependent,

in any way, on the whim of humankind.

 

Herb Robert – aka Red Robin –

is a wild and elegant geranium,

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CELEBRITY

Bought for the Coronation,  our first TV

had a nine inch screen. It stood in a corner

of the front room. My grandmother, who

had outlived two husbands, two World Wars,

and once had tea with Buffalo Bill,

thought that those appearing on ‘the box’

could see those watching, so was discerning

about whom she chose to watch, and when.

 

She particularly liked ‘What’s My Line?’, an import

from America, in which a panel

of four TV ‘personalities’

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THE MERMAID’S PURSE

For Evie Chapman

 

She fetches me a mermaid’s purse she has found

among the seaweed where the sand

meets the mound of pebbles the waves have built

and rebuilt over the centuries.

The small black pouch, with tendrils like broken straps

and firm as dried leather, is an empty

egg case, from which a shark or a ray hatched

on the seabed, probably between here

and Ireland. Tides detached and chance brought

this empty womb,

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THE NAKBA

‘…mourning and sorrow shall end,
when I return to Jerusalem…’

Mediaeval Jewish Prayer

 

‘We suffer from an incurable malady: Hope.’

Mahmoud Darwish

 

On a land mass that is the size of landlocked

Rutland, the smallest county in England,

Gaza, the Earth’s third most populated

polity, has two small rivers  and a hill.

Its city, four thousand years ago,

was the site of a Pharaonic fortress.

 

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