My forehead is a touch screen.
I take the edge and thumb swipe time
forward, while regrets blur into pain.
One swipe and 30 seconds die
not with a bang but with a ping
of the microwave.
I have heard the burst of bombs
left by terrorist platelets,
sound travelling from the crater of a synapse
banging anvils onto hammers in my ear,
projecting dragons out through closed eyes,
and counted myself lucky
In spring an old man’s fancy
likely turns to thoughts of wonder.
I open the blinds to let sunlight
blind me and send its flying vitamins
to anaesthetise lesions, and waken
hibernating hope cells with a splash
like witch hazel.
Shell is too strong a word
for this bubble, reflecting day’s glare.
When you’ve floated around the sun
a few times, landed somewhere -
called it home and held in
the breath you were given. I wish
I had a shell.
They put me in school. They do it to us all
and they teach us the alphabet and how to read,
how to add up and take away and memorise
the dates of battles, the names of kings,
while round outside the classroom the sun
illuminates the unread leaves and stirs
the untaught robin to sing his rhapsody
for which there is no do-re-mi, no metronome.
And we learn like Pavlov’s dogs; how to please,
to supply the formula, to recite the text
we copied from the board and in return we get
rosettes, prizes, kisses, presents, Easter eggs.
But when the teacher has retired and our mams
and dads have forgotten everything or died,
we’re left to wander abroad with nothing
but ciphers, tokens, money from a vanished state.
And late, so very late, the sun breaks through
a bare giant tree to lonely winter benches
where, as this afternoon, I wonder who to ask
to teach me how to read the day, the light
on public footpath signposts and leafmeal,
to diagram the last of the afternoon sun,
warming a railway bridge in a country lane,
to derive the angles in a fine terrace below.
And I think of Yeats, Spender, Goldsmith,
walking through a classroom and being moved
to mystic reverie, fierce compassion, wonder.
But beyond the class there was a secret school
that taught us how to hear the ocean in a seashell,
to observe a crab blowing bubbles, the local names
for honeybees, how to draw houses, smoke & flowers.
Take me back to the school of streets and fields.
photo©Stratos Fountoulis, “Winter in Brussels”, Dec.2007