Thought I might as well mark National Poetry Day, as I do write it occasionally. You know when you're a kid and you get the wrong end of the stick about something you've only heard about in passing? And then you never get disabused of the idea? This is about when I realised the Elgin Marbles weren't big round rocks. Yeah, I was an idiot. And about 25.
remembering the British museum
We’d taken the whole day off I think,
escape via annual leave. A virgin page
in a brand new Moleskine journal, begging
to be filled with our unoriginal musings
on culture and art. ‘We have this great city
on our doorstep’. ‘A scandal’. ‘We really must’
‘Let’s be one of those couples’.
I’d wanted to see the Elgin Marbles.
Since childhood years, I’d pictured those
huge cool spheres. A giant’s game of Rolley Hole,
wasn’t the wonder in how smooth they are?
The seventh Earl called keepsies, when Greece
thought they had been playing fair. [Of course,
rules should be decided in advance.]
‘Over here’, you said. You realised, but didn't
smirk. My eyes tracked the gallery,
bemused. A cathedral aisle of polished floor;
supplicants crowded the walls. Oh.
How could I not have known? The blood
in my ears felt thicker. Hot. Words buzzed.
Distorted, in swimming pool air.
The sightless fury of a centaur, remaining limbs
still striking for the throat. That discorporate
mare. Poor Ginger on the knacker’s cart,
tongue lolling. Torsos missing only the gibbet.
Exposed to time and air and public scrutiny.
No Arcadian pursuit after all. Who’d have thought?
We bought coffee and perched, high on stools.