Frieda Hughes & John Kinsella
22 June 2006 & 31 October 2006
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.