Derek – Friday 16th October 2020

A cold start, the dawn sky like cut pomegranate,
the road still, a light here and there, an invisible train
behind the Victorian houses, rumbling out empty to the sea.

I pull up my collar, whistle *Skip to My Lou* through black coffee lips,
as if there are ghouls behind the plane trees and a song will shrivel them,
as I cast a sigh back to my closed curtains and warm bed.

The gate is stiff in a tangle of ivy, which I should cut, today’s
reminder for tomorrow, and a leaf, a single leaf, lies on the pavement,
such a red and yellow wonder, a Star of David, an offering

scattered by keening Israelites on the waters of Babylon.
I pick it up, like a child for a school project, but I have no project,
other than to walk to the station, step by step along damp paving stones,

so what to do with this, such shame to throw away this sliver of cells,
this light catcher, an eager hand pleading to be stroked,
making me ponder why gold, why diamonds, why paintings by dead men,

this Duchamp, this essence in simplicity, every tree a gallery wall,
untitled, unframed; I hold the morning’s discovery, the Tate’s delight,
a Rothko of dawn, my leaf reviewed in flowery comparisons

with water lilies at Giverny, too temporary, too unseen,
discarded in the roadway this secret, a glimmer,
giving bricks and dustbins an iota of joy.

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