"Nothing sets my heart aflame": a poem by Emily Berry

I have discovered the meaning of life and it is curatorial

I was displaying the contemporary hunger for objects and it was not unusual

I did the research

I am not the only one for whom the word vintage has become like a lozenge

My eye lounges among the relevant pages of the premier auction website

You will have some experience of this

Perhaps there was something missing in your life and it was a mid-century lampshade, or a fixed-gear bicycle

Nothing sets my heart aflame like a minimalist font library 

Oh my God some bridges are feats of engineering and design

I spend whole mornings gazing at my Crittall windows

When the class war happened one side was busy buying salvaged parquet flooring

I don’t know what the other side was doing

If I only had a brown leather satchel I would be more formed politically

I believe in the power of acquisition to cleanse the soul

I am also taken by the clothes women wear in the magazines 

I read at my physiotherapist’s

In the right get-up anything is possible

The olden days are very contemporary at the moment

I feel an urge to wear braces and men’s trousers but that fashion has passed

I cannot find the right accoutrements in the shops

We have nearly run out of eras

I don’t know what to do – should I make my own clothing and wear a necklace of cotton reels

Should I go to Berlin

But I see something of myself in a perspex brooch

Give me a moment

I’ll be OK after I’ve looked through this collection of postcards of modernist churches

My crisis is relatively universal

Every time I think a new thought I can smell an old 

one burning.


This article first appeared in the 13 August 2012 issue of the New Statesman, The New Patriotism