Back to the beginning, then.
Who lives here still? Some shepherd swain chewing
on a stem, staring over the lonely treetops?
Fool if you expected silence,
or thought that the trees would be empty.
But the contrails have gone and the big roads
are all but deserted. I don’t hear the kids
with their acrobat bikes and clattering skateboards.
And no Mr. Singh (“Call me Ajay”) with his deep,
deep voice over the parcels and stamps. All the buses
are empty when they stop at the curbs.
Or are they discharging ghosts?
Get used to the diet! Now the barn owls glide by day.
You’ve heard that inappropriate warble blown across
the pigeon’s flightpath. All is change, or all is reversion.
There’s the groundsel shouldering through the tarmac
now that no one’s standing between her impatience
and the sun. And yes, the sky’s as blank as paper.
Not a chalk mark or a water line across it. And the field
before us goes unkicked, unfurrowed. Hares are tucked
into its hollows. By night the fox will lift fastidious feet
on the way towards our overflowing bins. Each morning
butterflies that hadn’t been invented just a month ago
adore each other’s colours on the honeysuckle.
So watch the grass grow blade by blade for times
this succulent won’t come again. And just across
the treeline lies the town with its waiting rooms
and corridors and wards and the great hearts huddled,
distant but intimate over the tubes and the lines.
LOCKDOWN read by Dick Jones.
ECHOES by mUmbo.
mUmbo are Emma Semple: violin, viola, vocals and video creation
and Doug McGowan: guitar.