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Postcards to Anselm Kiefer

I. Rubble, Light and Voice

Concrete and rubble: the Word
Produces its monuments.
Monstrous overheard
Conversations. Lost tenements.
Attics open to the elements.

We were leaving the wreckage.
Soon it was dark and the queue
Lengthened into a sleepless dream
We had somehow to live through
And, finally, to redeem
As if night itself were the passage.

A lost glove hanging on a fence,
A shoe without laces by the roadside,
The hand's abstraction, the foot's absence:

Marriage of invisible inconvenience.
Bridegroom stripped bare by the Bride.
Lost glove. Lost fence.

The rubble was the frightening thing.
So much had fallen and the rain
Was as much inside as outside.
Tiny pebbles were pretending to sing
To keep fear off. And then more rain
With nowhere to hide.

We were clerks of forgotten states.
We scribbled memos
That none of us would read,
Opened deals that would not close,
Followed leaders who could not lead.
We traded our empire for a single bead
Of light that broke us like cracked dinner plates.

The evening, shrimp-coloured and cool:
A late mild header into winter.
Soon enough dark morning, soon
Enough the splinter
Of ice stuck in the window, the moon
Stuck fast in the deserted lido, the pool
Blossoming into night,
Black as anthracite.

Sometimes you want to sing but as
You open your mouth the world shunts
Like a train and voice fails.
The failure is unimportant, hardly counts
In the scheme of things, but you're off the rails.
Sometimes voice is all a man has.

Under the rubble sleep the dead
Barely visible, as always.
You hardly want light there. Days
Collapse into visions. Night is preferable.
Light looks for trouble
Between broken limb and marble head.

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from Number 1, June 2012 >> Table of Contents