Your heart is a building, you step into it and out of it | It is the place you are most yourself, where you touch / the edges of the things which make you you alone and not the others, although of course / they are also in the building with you | Often you leave the building with them, and forget / even that you have a heart, sometimes it is a key or an umbrella, you misplace it, leave it in a bar or a hospital waiting room, where the impartial light shines down on it, a spider plant in a cherry red ceramic pot / sitting on top of an olive green metal filing cabinet / the stuff of the details of / your secret, undersea life, the moraine of the forgotten, the humble / debris of the overlooked || Does your heart grow over time? Gathering more rooms as you age, expanding its footprint / accumulating height and gradually / enclosing more and more space / turning into a skyscraper of memory in which / you may wander from apartment to apartment, floor to floor, meeting the guests of ghosts of / childhood friends you haven’t seen for 50 years or your lost spouse to whom / you sent your tears and caresses, the inchoate / messages of so many days / collecting / the clicks of a ticking clock, the seeds of laughter and care of routine / growing their mountains around you… || It’s all relative they say, It’s a state of mind or | It’s a point of view | As the heart is a city, so also the city is a heart, compounded / by tram rides or bridges | the recorded voice in the lift | pigeons milling round your feet in certain public squares, the innumerable / places you left yourself / silently and almost invisibly / an enormous and fragile / compendium of traces || Perhaps, in some ways, your heart / is the most elusive thing in the world / a destination you aim for / a location you can’t / quite find on the map | and at the core of you / is an indistinct, rather nondescript suburb / home to strangers / a far-off, ocean murmur / of the blood in your head / and on the edge of sleep / a soft, familiar yet unidentifiable voice / whispering in your ear…

We took a tube from Finchley Road to King’s Cross | It was a walk-through, in which you can see right down the length of the train, and we were in the front carriage | It was evening, and I was a little drunk | The bright yellow poles receded in a flowing series, and with the perspective I felt it was like looking into a modernist forest, the trunks of the trees these slender verticals of primary colour | I didn’t have my glasses on, and other passengers / rocked and swayed / and they were like / blurred nymphs and fauns from the hazy remains / of a classical idyll in my head | Just before we reached the station, we were gabbling away about nonsense, when you suddenly turned and gave me a small kiss on the cheek, I don’t know where | that came from

 


from Semapolis | City of Signs
(series of poems, unfinished, 2012–present)
(this poem, June 2012)

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