Acta Diurna


The orchestra has played definitively
'Overture and beginners' and from behind
A jammed safety curtain I see myself aged eight,
The ghost of a Mantuan holding my hand.


I hear a train whistling in the night
Gathering speed for a hidden gradient
And in his signal box my father on
Long night duty pulls the down-line lever,
Setting the signal-arm at 'go'.


A breakwater leans into the sea;
Down the beach the wood foundations
Ofa long-gone pier are laced with seaweed.
Thousands of tides have softened the
Immense beams tied deep into the shore
With hoops of steel, yet the soft wet wood
Is immeasurably strong and straight
Its lines cannot be overcome by sea
Or storm and, laid as a bulwark,
It leans forever against the sea.


There is a wooded edge to Roundhay Park
A rim of bluebells with their heavy scent
Slipping down to a stream; Anne says,
"Shall we kiss?" and turns me from the two
Lying together, telling me not to look;
But I see only Anne, the frame of her free
School spectacles circling the smile of
Her eyes, her face a delicate shell, the shade
Of roses lost in the maze she comes for me
And rescues me, Anne, Anne, where have you gone?