Charles Tomlinson (1927-2015)


We shall sleep-out together through the dark
The earth’s slow voyage across centuries
Towards whatever Ararat its ark
Is steering for. Our atoms then will feel
The jarring and arrival of our keel            
In timelessness, and rise through galaxies,
Motes starred by the first and final light to show
Whether those shores are habitable or no.

A Rose for Janet

I know
this rose is only
an ink-and-paper rose
but see how it grows and goes
on growing
beneath your eyes:
a rose in flower
has had (almost) its vegetable hour
whilst my
rose of spaces and typography
can reappear at will
(your will)
whenever you repeat
this ceremony of the eye
from the beginning
and thus
learn how
to resurrect a rose
that’s instantaneous
and perfect now

All Aboard

All aboard and then
the entire train
breaks into phone fever and
intimacies of every kind
blossom into relations, revelations
as bosoms unburden themselves and stand
stark in that no-man’s-land of tattle
confronting the traveller:
I must exchange my seat and get
into the phone-free hermitage where I
can contemplate the self-sufficiency of trees,
the passing landscape and the sky,
but someone has anticipated me
and is talking into the mouthpiece of his machine
–the others are too well-mannered to intervene
but I tap his shoulder, tap again to snip
the unbreakable ticker-tape of his privacies
which have not ceased and do not until I lean
closer to indicate the to him invisible sign:
he lurches up and awake and gripping
his still unsheathed weapon makes
for the pollutable corridor. The others are silent–
disappointed: clearly they had been trying to filter out
the inessentials and impose their own storyline.
I had frustrated them with that fastidiousness of mine.
Too late for landscape now. I take out
a book too ruffled to read it–
close your eyes, there are no exceptional things
to surprise them in the dark out there.
I even fall asleep, then wake to the hiss of the brakes,
the shudder of resistance – we have arrived and so
I stand and step down into Gloucestershire in a Scotch mist.