Poetry from Sandra Horn

PATHOLOGY MUSEUM SPECIMEN

Here, held in limbo,
floats not-quite-life;
unable to decay,
unable to begin
as dust flies to raindrop,
raindrop to river,
river to fish:
lithe, silvery fish.
As ash lifts in wind-flow,
wind flows to berry-bud,
berry-bud to bird:
high soaring bird.
As earth turns to wormcast,
wormcast to rootlet,
rootlet to tree:
burgeoning tree.

BALLROOM DANCING ON ROBBEN ISLAND

‘Shall we begin with a waltz this morning?
One-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three, turn.’
Did you dance to a wind-up gramophone?
A radio? Or was there no music and you sang,
clapped rhythms you remembered from your youth
as the slow years passed and you grew old?
One-two-three, one-two-three, were you straight-faced
or did you giggle as you stepped and turned?
Did you smile, close your eyes, imagine
that you held a woman in your arms,
that the concrete floor was sprung,
the naked lightbulbs chandeliers,
as you danced at Government House?
Or did you weep for loss and fear?
Where was hope, then?
A cruel ghostlight fading with the dawn,
yet another, yet another dawn?
Or your lodestar, shining through the nights,
steadfast through the days, beckoning you on?

DRIVING THROUGH THE WEST COUNTRY, HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY

Exeter: hoar-frosted stone throws light back at the sky.
Mist on the river, white and soft,
Like something one might lay across a wound. 

Remember Treblinka.
Remember Babi Yar.
Schubert on the radio: Litanei for the departed;
Ruhn in Frieden alle Seelen.
May all souls rest in peace.

 Remember Auschwitz.
Remember Me Lai.

Tiverton: the river dances, flinging spindrift high;
A lone duck frolicks in the waves.
Tom Lehrer’s gravel voice: So long, Mom, I’m off to drop a bomb.

 Remember Rwanda,
Remember Hiroshima
.

Remember the burden we carry;
Unslaked bloodlust, hate in our minds’ dark places,
Always waiting its chance.

 Remember Srebenica,
Remember Bergen-Belsen.

Enmore: a small child jumps in puddles, his face alight with joy.
A boy and girl walk in the field,
Lit by the evening sun,

Remember, remember, to keep them from the dark.

 

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