Thursday, 7 February 2013

Russell Square

                   Address to Francis, Duke of Bedford

You did a good job, Francis
in leaving us this square.
Two hundred and eight years on
the London Planes curlicued
and festooned with seed bolls,
dappled and lichen blotched trunks,
each with more arms than Vishnu,
twigletting as high as the red and white
stacks of the Russell,
they belie their names as they stand
even more magnificent in winter.

Ewen MacColl lies behind me –
‘Folk laureate, singer, dramatist, Marxist’.
Another wee oak, but gaining,
marks those who never got off that 38 bus,
as I sit on a bench named for Shelley Marie Mather
‘27.01.79 – 07.07.2005
born Invercargill, NZ –
a beautiful vibrant young woman’.
Now that’s a windy place to come from.
Is her remembered being still shielding
Antarctic drafts from her parents?
Along from here a whiff of coriander
in a herbal bed.

They’ve planted a new lime grove centre
[no not the BBC but then you couldn’t know
about that could you]
and the horseshoe path is back again,
even some pathetic topiary.
I can see your silent, disdaining smile
from that mind’s eye of yours
now in a cluster of atoms
alighting on Senate House.

Really Francis it’s quite alright.
By the way there’s a pigeon
on your represented head,
but you knew that would be.
And Charles James Fox is staring at you
from five furlongs due south.
I hope you don’t mind.

People walk through here,
Just that bit slower,
A world enough, and time.

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