Saturday, 14 July 2012
MORE FROM THE 'POETRY NORTH EAST' ARCHIVE
BORN OUT OF RESIGNATION
Slime nosed and grubby
Spill across the dust of
Into crumbling backyards
Where stems of sunlight
Turn fragments of masonry
Into tigers' eyes and
And, above the strident excitement
Of the 'treasure hunters',
The carillon of the Civic Centre
Drifts folk tunes across
To a knot of men
Squatting outside the Shieldfield Arms
Burying the slow trade of time
In Sunday newspapers.
By a resilience
Born out of resignation,
A man coaxes mucus
From his throat,
Directs it at the
Hard element of rubble -
An exclamation mark of
That betrays no loss of
At Earsdon sheep can pick their way
Over the wet green needles of their dumpling hill
With dainty grace, deft as Arab eyes at market.
Each tuft's a small bazaar, but their hunting is joyless.
Black nostrils pucker up in winter's greed,
Mean lips rip up quick bargains and snap shut.
They spill across the Earsdon hill, these sheep
Like a caravan gone wrong.
Under the filigree glories of Northumberland's lid,
I half expect, half hope to see
A pink pendentive mosque, with a minaret pointing
Like an emperor's fist held up in clemency.
And, while this blowzy northern sun slumps in debauch,
I hear a muezzin baying for obeisance
Over the bowed heads of these Earsdon sheep.
Useless to say you know
A square black Saxon church squats on this hill
Agelessly strong, agelessly chill, visions destroying.
Thick slabs of slate and tubloads of lead nails
Fasten it to the hill like a doom.
Yet, at its heart is the shape of a lamb
And some of the old caravanners' names
Are kept in a book there.
Not long from now, scrubbed children will choir there
Telling of unwashed shepherds, carolling of sheep,
Shaking dull copper bells, whistling up Magi
Below a mellow light that's sucked from under Arab feet.
They will stand in stilled huddles before
Sackfuls of dusty straw
Strewn with careful abandon to simulate pastoral life.
They will lay their piping icons at the foot
Of a flimy structure purposely wrought rough
To house the wraith of poverty seasonally dragged out
Which is for us humility, for Arabs wealth.