By: Stephen Kingsnorth
This Katra cell behind the police line
knows Yamuna’s confluence nearby,
Uttar’s Sangam trinity,
mythical togetherness of three,
uneasy two in dim forgotten outskirt.
Kum Kum with sick uncle encamp,
roundel wagons of
believers Bible body
circling hurricanes glow
then darker Hindu doubt.
Rumoured by rickshaw wallah worker,
discontent, disquiet, disaffect,
decision made, we make our way
from hut for few grumbling men
to growing gathering Ganges gang
of protestors pursuing
through bustee maze,
our speeding steps stumble
as we shoulder glance;
lamplight left, we have lost the leaderless
where Kum Kum neighbours.
I only saw with skirt hem eyes
from grassy deck – decking unknown –
long timber prop, to hold the line,
thin greyed, as though beach-bleached, one knot;
I knew the gnarl and one day met
the warp, out-stretched thumb, dislocate.
Throughout childhood that weak joint caused
frequent twinge, so I enjoyed at
early age, medal, badge, ill health,
relating tale, as boy by calf
I walked into the age-old pole,
itself like driftwood, beach-comb searched.
That garden mast swung fro and to
with nappies, sheets to starboard, port.
Dad, hammock strung Cox, pear between –
too obvious to climb the stair –
he gently swung amongst the trunks
held yarning conference with himself,
whilst floating mind and Navy Cut.
Trews she wore, wearied, mangled blouse,
lugged laundry basket, set her hip,
as if lanyard distorting neck,
weekday burden, piled crevasse mix
with gipsy pegs, wicker-snagged vests.
When Greenwich fog bog-clogged the lawn
the rope was hauled to raise the roof.
Those hanging sails, baggy wrinkles,
by kitchen gloss, steam swab above,
then, anchored to the sweat-run walls,
figure of eight wound galley cleat.
So, me a tot, she daily sailed
her clipper, tea, then Cutty Sark,
or sherry schooner tipped to wind
while he, at ease, in lees, in port.
Now what would Ovid, poet, say –
with suchlike metamorphoses,
a change throughout our custom life,
shaped global screening, viral spread?
Far flung, the seeds of influence,
in literature, all media,
as urban myth that grows in tracts,
our inspiration under threat?
Mark Hero’s features, myth nineteen,
as Byron, swam the Hellespont,
the strait between two airwave seas,
a channel, victim Covid’s strain,
breast stroke of love with gasps for breath?