The NS Poem: Midland

A new poem by Grey Gowrie. 

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The yellow gantry above a sad  
scatter of poplar by the railway side  
to heft containers: beautiful, haphazard,  
in massed colours piled, rust-red, blue-grey 
like old Levi’s or a bright Léger, 
their raggedy labels, stencilled destinations 
tell us our city will be dragged away   

and be dispersed beyond archaeology or tariffs 
humanoid arms on wheels make slack of steel,  
shunt the goods of an old economy  
east to an ocean. Here, in a stacking yard,  
a wrong turn taken, all at sea 
in a small car with irritable instructions 
whispered invisibly on the mobile,  

we may escape in wonder at this tiered 
luggage: loudspeakers and break linings,  
tins of emulsion, silent pneumatic drills, 
two-by-four shelves for self-assembly 
kitchens. Safe in a world of things,  
hemmed in ourselves by metal, we try to find  
the way out or, at least, a causeway 
home in the certain knowledge that what kills  

is certainty; signifying; failure to see 
momentary slivers of occasion – 
the golden crane, the silver-paper tree – 
that surface momentarily in dreams 
like metal-seeking light or like the sun’s  
waltz down some lost avenue of the mind. 

Grey Gowrie’s "Third Day: New and Selected Poems" and "The Italian Visitor" are published by Carcanet.

This article appears in the 10 February 2021 issue of the New Statesman, End of the affair

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