98. 2020.

smoking or non smoking ?
she asks, with a smile long gone.
These are pictures of death,
dead things,
look – there they are
mothers & infants,
dead buildings,
there’s one
and look, another,
– and that’s a lovely one, it’s true.
They’re scattered all around
& then, there it is, the one for me,
although it takes a moment
to register, or recognise –
no rubbish here, I say to myself.
How did I find it ?
It found me, this totem
and once I had it
I couldn’t stop having it.
          – it gestured with a sweep of the hand,
         – it whispered –   
                   this was all flower shows, croquet,
straw boaters & bandstands;  afternoon tea.
England embracing a genteel decay.
Mrs Smith & Mr Jones doing what they ought not,
somewhere close by.
But now they’ve all but shut up shop
and England is just a memory
of something there never was.

When my mysterious specimens
in sepia and black & white
first appeared,
I imagined the sender as someone bent on malice,
but no, – this was an act of love, of affiliation –
something precious to be shared and passed around,
for those with eyes to see;
and one day, when I’ve had my fill,
maybe another’s doormat
will give up a dull thud
as a string-tied brown paper parcel
lands there,
awaiting the unaccustomed eyes
of a total stranger
about to be paralyzed
with joy & horror in equal measure.