Frieda Hughes & John Kin­sella

22 June 2006 & 31 Oc­to­ber 2006

The London Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Dear John,

Is Par­menides still dead? Does the keeper of the li­brary edi­tion Still cling to that col­lec­tion of fos­sils You wish to give life to? Hav­ing lain out the bones Of the first forty-five years Of my own life, Al­lowed only two A4 pages per year, I won­der what mi­crobes Will crawl from the mar­row-holes When pub­li­ca­tion opens the cas­ket And the dis­sec­tion be­gins. The parts left May be found in the ce­ment mixer I keep in the gar­den shed. As I write this, the hus­band drives, The TLS party of­fers an op­por­tu­nity To see friends, meet strangers, And dress nicely, un­recog­nis­able From the work­ing self. I spec­u­late About the faces of the other driv­ers As we over­take, Their pos­si­ble lives etched into Their un­con­scious ex­pres­sions As they give them­selves away, gurn­ing Through the win­dows of their metal tins, Their garbage bins, As we by­pass Birm­ing­ham.

A young man in his white van, Has his mo­bile clamped to his ear So he can bet­ter hear His girl­friend’s min­is­tra­tions, The grey man in his grey tran­sit Sw­erves as if punc­tured, And as we pass I see his head Nailed back against the head­rest, His eyes bulging and fixed for­wards, Fight­ing sleep. He’d wo­ken to find He’d crossed the white lines Sev­eral times. A green truck me­an­ders; The driver is di­alling, if he di­als him­self Into the side of our car The call won’t mat­ter. Fools think They are im­mune from the mo­ment That snatches it­self back again, Leav­ing man­gled, bro­ken knowl­edge And sud­den, too-late aware­ness All over the road in pieces. That ar­ro­gance de­mands Neme­sis, But who would want to be Close enough to see her work? Not me. Foot down, speed up And leave the id­iots be­hind, Al­ways re­mem­ber­ing to sig­nal.

A plas­tic shop­ping bag flies Indig­nantly past our wind­screen On its way to join com­pan­ions at the road­side, Or to keep an im­por­tant en­gage­ment, To see friends, meet strangers and dress In the name of the sup­plier. And up above, the buz­zard glides,

Its care­ful eye out for prey, Fo­cussed, per­fectly bal­anced on a ther­mal, Obliv­i­ous of our clat­ter­ing and scram­bling Through the junk­yard of metal and con­crete We build up around us, Like some welded and bolted Hideous sar­coph­a­gus.



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