Frome XI | Andrew Hirst

To stay the writing hand, just now
when it seems whole continents are shifting
off their axes, now the roof tiles on the roof
clatter and won’t sit still. To revive lint
that is torn, earth linenless rooms,
to fix mouths that move
to the same rhythm that our mouths
moved to, to think and describe clearly
sometimes becomes impossible.

Ours wasn’t an age of polished evenings
the sky transparent on the skyline –
there was barely room for
consolation. Each night for a month
a comet blazed across the night sky
– that was ten years ago, a time when
the first war in the Gulf could still be exalted
and signs still taken as wonders.

So, dear friend, no need to ask
if I’m nostalgic for the old life, nor to speak
of the high velocity of current times.
I was obstinate and believed these times
would pass. I’ll write again one high April
morning, when, under a feral moon
the captured have been lifted, astonished
out of signs and prevailing transparencies
return, the common dream.

From Frome I-XII (Longbarrow Press, 2007). Listen to Andrew Hirst and Chris Jones reading this poem and others in Sheffield’s Paradise Square in October 2009 (as part of the Sideways & Familiar poetry walk), accompanied by the musician Kerry McMullen: