THE STREET PARTY

Above every Mairie flaps the Tricolour.

On every lawn, in every yard through the gut

of America – where the Great Plains began

before the farmers came with wheat and pigs

and soya fields – Old Glory flutters.

Above the reception desk in every

riad in Morocco the king’s photo hangs.

Here, things are never that unambiguous.

 

In a street near the foot of the Downs,

too steep for tables, they have strung bunting

from house to house,

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AN ABSENCE OF STARLINGS

‘My wall is loosening; honey-bees,
Come build in the empty house of the stare.’

Meditations In Time Of Civil War, W.B. Yeats

 

Each year, there would be two nests –

in the eaves at opposite corners

of our square house. We would hear them,

scratching in the gutters – and Danny,

the window cleaner, an ‘affable irregular’

of the black economy, at the door for his money,

would report on their progress

through the spring and the summer –

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SISYPHUS

An old man, wrists like a boy’s, round and round

the footpaths of the park, wheeled his wife

swaddled in many fading coats. She was blind,

made a gummy music that might have been hymns.

A child, passing, did not know when to laugh,

nor I, a young man then, how to deserve

such rapture.

 

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LA CATHÉDRAL SAINTE-MARIE D’AUCH

This is the first church she has ever entered.

She likes the thudding noise of her pink trainers

with the flashing heels on the limestone flags.

She stops and points. She has seen, in subtle,

Renaissance stained glass, Jonah emerging

from his whale. She sees a kneeler, lies down

before Adam and Eve and pretends to sleep.

The cathedral was on the pilgrim route

to Santiago Di Compostella

so is a place of consummate skill,

vaulting beauty and Christian arcana –

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