Three huge flat figures walk on water,
their aluminium selves are filled with holes.
They grapple with each other where the H20 flows,
once part of the solid, silent border
between the two great drainage systems,
between two special economic zones,
the mazes that millions mapped out as homes,
till the wire and walls came down, and the river
flowed over the lower, shoddier bank first,
flooded the buildings with new carrier bags,
TVs and cars, till the freshwater washed back
to the far shore and levelled the earth.
New towers berlinned on the banks,
and new banks berlinned in the towers. No more
landscapes of flowers in the miracle talk,
but the red and green men in their Quaker hats
continued to light up the pedestrian crossings
as alternating icons, luminous ideograms:
designed in the Old East, they’re less lamps
than candles for a change some chant as loss.
Now in the New West, the Molecule Man
is static at his place on the central river.
His three heads and six arms form a Shiva
turned inwards and away from the land.
From the Longbarrow Press pamphlet Swamp Area (2012). Alistair Noon’s Longbarrow publications are available to purchase here. Listen to Alistair Noon read this poem: