Out of the city they ran, with great speed and intent, to where the harsh rule of the little Caesars could not shackle them; where usurious debts were not counted and where all trading was banned. Rejoicing, they joined hands and soon found themselves at the foot of a sacred mountain. Climbing it, they, in their multitude, looked down upon their patrician rulers and vowed to forbid their merciless powers. Councils sat, tribunes were created, laws were passed and a temple of concord was built. The city was empty. Money was useless. The gentry became redundant. The plebs were victorious.
I got a plate full I can tell you, a plate full of hungry mouths to fill, emerging markets in China, India and Brazil. I got 7 kilos of grain making 1 kilo of beef, corn turned into biofuels never nibbled by my teeth. I got poor harvests and lousy weather, farmers’ profit and loss, maize field failures and low wheat stocks. I got herds going to slaughter ’cause they cost too much to feed, blizzards, tornadoes, wildfires, torturous heat, floods, tropical storms and full-on hurricanes, and my plate is full of food and I’ll eat it all the same.
These silent totems and the smog only a breath above. The still pond and the watchtower. The giant portakabin canteen empty, dust sticking to its grease, where briefly they came, once visited. The park meadows are left to nature. Not hacked back any more, weeds are growing now. The canal, sludged up, reveals its shopping trolleys and plastic. But the railway lines are busy. People pass, noses pressed against the windows, staring. And beyond the tracks the towers rising, the remains of artillery, the air ambulance – and the city itself, its sheen of gold, citizens drinking Coca-Cola, munching Hula Hoops.
A statement will be issued in due course.
First things first, what you need to understand…
It is not our place.
All in good time.
We should not jump to any conclusions.
Of course these issues are a priority.
Our work does not stop.
We cannot pre-judge the matter.
There is no point making promises.
There is a process that must be followed.
He is attending to the matter in hand.
He is treating the matter very seriously.
He is on official business.
He is away from his desk.
David Cameron is out to lunch.
Please go away.
The rains of spring have lasted a year. I hear that in some areas now there are only showers, or perhaps someone said light drizzle. It was always too optimistic to think the rains were seasonal. It would take a decade of downpours to drench this scorched earth.
But the rains come and come: wave after wave of them across from what once might have been a horizon. Now it is just a fog of tears and smoke. And endless deep.
The wet blows through the broken windows, seeps into the khaki, runs down my chest, pouring even as we sleep.
Their little hands reaching out into the sunlight and clear
Clutching scrunches of silver and white, like crumpled tenners, scores –
Unfolding the mottos of fortune cookies, notes of remembrance, promises
Made one to another, they to us, winter to summer.
The first gesture of the year is an embrace changing
Studded green to garlands of cream; an offering, deal, dowry
Of the newly prosperous, a show of intent, soft pride
That slow months will leave unrequited as the yellowings come.
Petals strewn on the breeze, again. The earth cracking beneath.
Hollow human laughs and the blossom long gone, branches bare.
Kirsty was very tiny and those paths were wide and sometimes she would feel scared but then she would have her dinner and feel full and forget. And soon she was growing and the paths were all thick with flowers and weeds and then some of the paths she couldn’t see so well. And then big machines and people who shouted built houses all along the paths and made fences and the path got narrow and the trees were tall. And Kirsty looked out of her small window and wondered how little things got so big and big things small.
Like at night, talking at the table, and glancing outside to see the snow falling. Like forgetting and awakening; again the clear magic. Like the blackthorn’s spindle branches and grass turned bronze and the endless white sky. And the snow that came like confetti first, and clung to the birches and the oaks, and settled like a warm robe across the woods. Like the gleeful shouts that crack the morning still, the scrape of shovels and crunch of boots. Like the water’s edge with its icy hem and the stealthy strut of a curlew. Like coffee. Like my lover’s eyes.
It was on my mind to tell you that I’d booked us a meal. We could maybe take a holiday in France this summer; I’d like some peace and quiet and you’ve been working so hard. The kids were coming back from school the other day and my how Olivia is growing. She’ll be as tall as me soon. We get so sidetracked sometimes. There’s no rulebook. Sometimes I think of how we used to be and the laughter we’ve shared. I wanted to tell you that I love you, always will. I’m sorry now it’s… now it’s… now it’s…