In the drab, ordinary places
Where History is left to grind away,
Leaving no brilliant traces,
None being expected of it,
All thought is effortlessly turned back and
Inward on itself, returned to unthought.
Words spoken, feelings expressed,
Are stretched, inverted and reflected,
To be swallowed by their voice of utterance,
Too tired to argue.
Here, only the relentless wear and tear,
On the grey solidity of dispassionate things,
Acquires brief and reluctant significance.
Slow processes of discoloration, disintegration,
Are accomplished, without visible agency,
In grimed, exfoliating real-time.
The people that inhabit these angles and surfaces
Criss-cross the halls like smeared ciphers.
Brief agglomerations of dust and shadow,
Caught on eternity´s hidden CCTV.
The images captured are blurred and stilted,
Too low-res for firm identifications to be made.
Anonymity is thereby guaranteed.
Their beams of fact, have turned to unread fiction
Before they have even turned the stair.
Door slam echoes from nether floors,
Rattle the concrete stairwells,
On one turn of which Norns sit,
Grey invisibly. Homelessly at home.
Their needles clattering on the grey yarn
Of unmemorable, unfulfillable fates.
On these stairs that were purpose built
To make legs ache and hearts crumple,
They knit forgettable lives.
That they, who are we, still build places like this,
Knowing they will look like this.
Knowing they will smell like this, and feel like this,
Suggests to me that civilisation is less than half-hearted.
Surely, we must ask, it is not written anywhere
That things can only be as they are?
In another place,
Where all Histories fold back to meet themselves,
Winged children flutter over emerald lawns,
Beneath a Sun swollen with immeasurable kindness.
Their mothers sing to Him, ceaselessly.
Their faces, eyes closed in reverence,
Upturned and lit by His radiance,
Their voices uplifted in exultation.
Their fathers feet are planted firmly,
Each with one foot on land,
And the other in sparkling water.
And all day, each day,
They hold apart the Earth and Sky,
For sheer Joy, and never growing tired.
Copyright © John Ferngrove 2009