It’s an April day
that could go either way
to sun or showers
and so could we
between the village
(food and shelter)
and the ruins
(the some-still-standing stones
whose legend fetched us here)
The lark surprises us
doing what (you knew)
all larks will do
and climbing to a place
that you and I have come this far
We might pretend
its notes were tokens
for us to press ahead
(finding no significance
in the sudden plunge
when the song was finished)
Time and Tall Ships
Greenwich, September 2014
Suppose a schooner’s oaken flanks could stretch
like putty: a continuum of vesselness
riding its own feathered chalk-line wake
whose prow is here and now
while aft it passes through a home port
to a shipyard where it splits
into trajectories of single planks from trees.
An albatross, white-winged and hovering
above the heaving waves, transcends
whatever’s measured by their steady tempo
and can watch each mile and moment
which that hyper-clipper occupies.
It’s free to settle anywhere
along the pencil-masthead’s trace.
Imagining elastic galleons
as analogues of timelines
makes our past seem so much less
an archipelago of memories
and more a joined-up terra nova:
we arrive where we have never been
and find ourselves still there.
They’re digging up the street again.
You might not think the smell of tar
could creep into that locked-up boxroom
where I stack old memories
from a tattered duffel bag
it’s fetched the essence of those summers
when they came to renovate
the avenue I played beside –
black-polish it with bitumen
like liquorice or treacle toffee.
Then they’d spread and roll out flakes
of grey-pink flint, as highlighting
along the road ahead that led
to growing-up (by way of school bus
and another autumn term).
we celebrate our tenth September
with a well-made, aromatic,
still untrodden year to come
that curves away past fading trees.
Michael Bartholomew-Biggs is poetry editor of the on-line magazine London Grip. His latest collection is Pictures from a Postponed Exhibition (Lapwing 2014) which features artwork by David Walsh. He is working on a new book which combines poetry & fiction.