INTIMATIONS OF MORTALITY

That Easter holiday when I was nine,

I filled the days of lakeland drizzle

with the contents of the hotel’s bookcase.

I remember one page from a Great War

history. Only the uniform

denoted humanity. What could have

been a face was a smear in sepia

mud. Wars and the aftermath of wars

shaped childhood. In brief sun, we visited

Wordsworth’s schoolroom with its harsh, scrawled desks.

I was fussed to a snapshot. And there I am

scowling at the brightness…

 

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NOW YOU ARE THREE

Words fly from your mouth like curious birds

or drift, like seeds, on a late summer’s day.

How rich your lexicon is!  Language learning

is encrypted – a secular miracle.

 

You do a cherubic ‘Twinkle, Twinkle,

Little Star’ – and a thrash metal version!

You know your first and surname – sound them clear

as for a roll-call, announcing your

determined, fragile independence.

 

“What’s dat?”, “Why?” You are avid for knowledge,

understanding.  Someone says,

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INTENSIVE

‘The body is…an extraordinary laboratory of possibility.’

Anthony Gormley

 

One sunny September Saturday I left

the Welcome Collection’s airy reading room,

stopped at the Picasso mural then took

the wide circular staircase past floors of

exemplary, aesthetic exhibits

of grave clothes, dentist drills, tranquillisers,

body parts, through the café and bookshop

into Euston Road’s fumy hugger-mugger.

 

I heard the siren first, behind me, saw

the traffic, past Euston towards St Pancras,

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IN THE MOOD

It has begun to rain so the park is off.

In the theatre foyer we learn that though

the magician has sold out there will be

a brass band concert in the main house.

We consult the little one. Yes, she would

like to hear them. We choose the cheapest seats –

the unraked stalls – and are solitary,

in the middle, three rows from the front.

 

Judging by the piano, the double bass

and the layout of the black music desks

it is a big not a brass band –

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MADELEINE MOMENTS

‘And suddenly the memory returns. The taste was that of the little crumb of madeleine…’

REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST, Marcel Proust

 

The day the season’s second Atlantic storm

was due there was I – after a sausage

and bacon bap with brown sauce and an Earl Grey

in the heritage station’s draughty café –

celebrating my 74th birthday

with my small family in a British Rail

standard compartment on the Santa Special.

 

We journeyed from Llangollen to Lapland

(aka Carrog) with mince pies,

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