In comfortable armchairs
my friend and I enjoy
her cool shady living room
on a hot sunny afternoon,
leisurely chatting, sipping tea.
A grinding roar deafens us.
A giant foot kicks
the back of my chair.
I turn but see no one.
The furniture rocks and sway
the floor undulates
like waves at sea.
What is deafening us ?
My friend rushes to the doorway
leans against the jamb.
I stare at her,
realise an earthquake
is rocking the house.
I run to the other jamb.
The doorway and floor move freely
as if fixed to nothing,
the roaring grinds on.
It lasts for fifteen seconds
on an epicentre 36 kilometres away.
A builder checked my friend’s chimney,
said the old mortar was no longer
holding its bricks together.
She had it dismantled.
Pudding Lane, Bow church, All Saints
Poplar. The overhead railway runs
high above long lines of commuter traffic
flashing trails of red tail lights,
white headlights in the dark morning.
Ancient names overarching modern machines.
Heron Quays, West India Quay, Canary Wharf.
We glide from small station shelters
into a vast overhead dome
to change trains amongst milling throngs
rushing to work in glass cased offices.
West India Dock, Crossharbour, Mudchute
appear as daylight grows.
another day, off to work again
in futuristic transport
yet a little out of this world
as I pass names established
so long ago, recurring still
in history books
and present day news.
A metal capsule brought me here
through the skies
to this vast way station
A vaulted glass roof
and windowed walls
reveal a surrounding blackness.
Long concourses flow of each other
occasional strangers pass me by.
With my body in three am confusion,
I drag my feet as
my cabin bag with last minute needs
drags my arms down
in relentless pain.
I must find a new capsule
with my name on its manifest.
Vast signs point east and west,
I know I am going west.
I find no sign for my journey
on the western signs. I despair.
Will I ever escape
this vast glass edifice
surrounded by endless blackness ?
A long weary tramp brings me
to a counter of computers,
I show my ticket
and am directed
to eastern departure gates.
Another weary tramp brings me
to an eastern gate
that accepts my ticket.
At last I escape these vast glass halls
for my final destination.
Engines humming endlessly
cross the vast blue Pacific
over puffs of cloud
stacked over, around each other.
We pierce wispy white mists,
cross dark grey pillows
stretching to the edge of our vision.
Rose tinted clouds give way
darkness. We land in the middle
of the night, enter a terminal,
sit for two hours, leave again,
fly on through darkness. The sky lightens,
rosy hues colour the clouds again
far below, we see another ocean
under puffs and strands of cloud.
Suddenly the seascape transforms
into a huge stark white mass
sprawling under us, blazing in the sunlight.
The screen showing the plane’s path
displays Green land.
Brilliant white mountains and plateaus
startle our eyes. Greenland’s only green
is along a few narrow coastal strips.
I blink away, then look back.
I do not want to miss this strange sight.
Now we reach the ocean
on the other side of Greenland,
once again clouds soften
the blues of sky and sea.
The brilliant unique land of ice
and snow falls behind, vanishes.