The clouds shift past like overloaded trucks.
It’s summer. We are standing on the kerb,
hands joined, waiting to cross the road.
Our island has drifted off into the sea
and nothing is steady any more. The sea
is rising so we can hardly see the road,
the gutter’s full too, washing over the kerb.
Wherever we look there are queues of waiting trucks.

Where did we start all this? Where were our hands
before they met? Where was the island then?
Where was the sea? The trucks are loaded with clouds.
Our hands are clasped under a weight of clouds.
Soon it will be evening. Whatever happens then,
these are our eyes, these are our hearts and hands.



Too much has happened
in them. They can’t remember
a darn single thing.

So things go missing.
There was an old shop there. Gone.
There was a doorway.

I stood there waiting
for rain to ease, for someone
vital to arrive.

I had forgotten
myself, left myself stranded
in the empty hall,

couldn’t remember
my true name. The buildings were

My name is legion.
says the empty hall. Now cast
yourself out, like swine.

George Szirtes was born in Budapest in 1948, and came to England with his family after the 1956 Hungarian Uprising. His latest poetry collection, Mapping the Delta (2016), is the Poetry Book Society Choice for Winter 2016. Bloodaxe has also published his Newcastle/Bloodaxe Poetry Lectures, Fortinbras at the Fishhouses: Responsibility, the Iron Curtain and the sense of history as knowledge (2010), and John Sears’s critical study, Reading George Szirtes (2008). Szirtes lives in Norfolk and is a freelance writer, having retired from teaching at the University of East Anglia.

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