We are close now. Up the steps from the main forecourt, to the grand entrance, opening onto the east, north and southern sides | The magnificent doors in gilded bronze | took only 15 years to complete | set in a frame of rosettes and lions’ heads | We pass into the splendid vestibule, and then on | through the famous “Bouquet of Lilies” doors | surrounded by their frame with stylised suns and various plant motifs | into the Hall of the Ancestors | Our feet click and echo on the parquet floor, the scent of varnish is overpowering | drowning the perfumes of the flowers on display | as if the living flowers, too, were somehow coated in varnish | At the end of the Hall of the Ancestors, we approach a tremendous pair of alto-relief silver doors | nearly 17 feet tall, and weighing 20,000 pounds | it is rumoured they are very difficult to close once open | Proceeding, we pass along the capacious, rather clinical connecting hallway, which was inserted into the building during the major reconfiguration of 1971–73 | The architects’ austere modernist aesthetic is evident in the pure white walls, and the white ceramic tiles of the floor, the side doors in African blackwood, their fittings in platinum | The hallway is very long, rumoured to be the longest in the world for a building of this type | In some sections, the lighting is subdued; in other sections, the lighting is very bright | We are walking for a long time, through opened pairs of more doors of African blackwood, and the effect is of moving through a rather dreamlike confection of a hospital, a lush but entirely anonymous corporate headquarters, with a hint, also, of an art installation, or a film set | Arriving at the end of this corridor, we find the discreet, black oak door, in plain frame, through which, in their time, some of the most famous and powerful figures in history have passed: this door may only be opened from the further side, there is no handle facing us — fortunately, the door was open, though unguarded, and we passed through

 


from the sequence of 100 poems, sentence (2012–2018)
(this poem, August 2014)