George Szirtes

Out of the dark came the miners. Their villages
were live coals and their bodies fed the flames
that burned their love affairs and marriages.

Black dust coated their tongues and blurred their dreams.
They licked their children into shape like bears
with sore heads. At night they heard the screams

of wheels on tracks or footsteps on the stairs.
They’d rise to the surface and gradually fade
into the morning. They covered their chairs

with rough shadows that left a faint grey tide.
They drank hard and played football with caps for goal-posts,
a few turned out for a professional side

in the nearby town. They prayed for the Lord of Hosts
to lead them into a world of light but woke
at midnight hearing their brothers’ ghosts.

Wheels on tracks, collapses. They only needed to poke
the fire for the coals to cave in and bury them deep.
I still remember the day their power broke

At Ollerton, Bidworth, Orgreave. The earth could keep
its darkness. It was the end of the century right now,
the end of the war. A new kind of peace would creep

out of the atom with pale hands, its brow
unlined and vacant. There was something deadly
about its frivolity, which would allow

anything at all except fire and memory.
George Szirtes
fot. archiwum autora

Selected Poems, OUP, 1996
The Budapest File, Bloodaxe 2000
English Apocalypse, Bloodaxe 2001
Metro, OUP, 1998
Reel, Bloodaxe, 2004

Strona autorska po angielsku

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