52 Poems for 2013, 9/52: Archaeology

Here is the ninth poem in Douglas Thompson’s 52-poem sequence (one a week) for 2013, followed by some illumination and reflection:




Through all the stillborn winter days
I shiver in the empty spaces
where you used to wait with me

on days that never quite happen
under a sun too sad to rise
I climb through the bones of old buildings
gaunt skeletons of warehouses laid bare
as I explore the wreckage of our laughter

seven storeys up I watch the city panorama:
a demented collage plunged under evening blue
a million lights flickering on
the traffic gearing up: mass anonymity
mechanised loneliness getting underway

peering into domestic tableaux
framed yellow lights in distant windows:
an old woman cuts another woman’s hair
a shirt is pressed or a kettle boiled
lamp shades hover like stolen moons
and mouths wring out pale words
immersed in silence

your life rages on beyond me
as frightening and exciting
as the searing lava-stream of traffic
daisy-chains of lights pouring over black ashes:
as ludicrous as decorations at a funeral

but wait a little longer: and the stars
take up their usual vigil
as beautiful and unattainable as you

I turn up my collar and go now
descending into old dust and darkness
thirsty for the ritual drowning
plunging into bell-jars of cold beer
pickling in the ether of hot air:
my sentiments; dead embryos
clinical, unborn.


Douglas says: ‘Oh dear me, why did I start this and why am I doing this to myself? Yes, this poem is perhaps even sadder than last week’s. Dredging through one’s own distant past can be a sometimes uncomfortable experience.’ (Read more of the author’s thoughts on this poem at his website.)

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Filed in News, Stories on February 27, 2013