the waiting room (excerpt)

rain falls now in silver shafts
and I wonder
as I always wonder
when reality will make its entrance
as in a doctor’s waiting room
or the waiting room
of a rural branch line
some sunny day
so many years ago
I can’t remember

dust on the old shelves
in the old place
the silent space I once inhabited

the books I took from room to room
lie yellowing in boxes
and all the while the minutes pass
the paper peals from sodden walls
a curling shroud of roses
leaves the scent of putrefaction

the waiting room is dark


hands open
hands close
hands give expression to the soul

and if I lose the use of mine
what value then will be my life

so I shall play arpeggios while I can
broken chords
like spokes upon a wheel

none of these notes mean a single thing
but bring me joy

if temporary
all things are temporary

except for one

obtained by digging

experience flashes over us
like the morning shower

the more intense it is
the more difficult to grasp

for one whole second
let alone an hour

if I could only hold a moment
from that wellspring of joyous giving

but all I have are these
dull memories

like casts and molds
no longer living

so long ago it seems
intangible as dream

but for these cold fossil forms
obtained by digging

headland 1

there will be time for reading books
and time for sitting on the grass
time for looking at the shadow cast
by the house
we lived in as children

there will be time to pick up pebbles
by the sea
and if that is not enough
for you and me
time to wander further out than that
over to the headland
where there are flecks of light flickering
and people gathering on the beach
to look at the fallen man

but now time is upon us
and things must be made ready


The flat was in Rue Montmartre as I recall,
a sequence of pictures hung upon a wall
that explained the meaning of time;
photos in black and white of geometric shapes,
unusual shapes that held the eye, disturbed the eye.

I sat in a corner café much concerned,
ran back to find a tenant now installed,
a face I barely recognised at first,
to whom I would explain once and for all,
the meaning of those pictures on the wall.

I failed to make him understand a thing
of how as a totality all exists,
and screamed: ‘Just let me see them one last time’,
ran into the room to find them gone
and in their place instead, but lately hung,
the portrait of a mother holding child.

‘Too late,’ I said. ‘I’ve come here far too late.’

Now in my head I tread forever more,
the dingy inner stair, first up, then down,
in vain, not getting anywhere at all.

The flat was in Rue Montmartre as I recall.