Roddy Lumsden


She loves the music box forever, she’s crying on my shoulder
-The Blue Nile, ‘Stay’

You can mythologise anywhere but you cannot
                                                     romanticise it,
or anyone. You hear the song. You know this:
                                                     the girl is Moira,
not Lolita and it's a scrappy rowan at best
                                                     not a lemon tree.
Women are mean... and snakelike,
                                                     my flatmate proposes
from the next room. It's the top of summer,
                                                     but we are both
too existential to even open the balcony door.
                                                     A long pause,
then she adds, Except for me, I am humble.
                                                     Some masters
painted the serpent with the face of a woman.
                                                     When he sings
of the parade, you sense it's only the Byres Road,
                                                     that the hiss and talk
is of football (not saudade, not the Dreamtime
                                                     and for sure it's not
the flinty, mighty dream time of the rénchén).
                                                     His gritty tinseltown
cranks up, the spotlit fountain huffs blue rain.
                                                     And this, this con,
this chicanery we pull, descendant of alchemy,
                                                     is what we do:
play musk, play magic into the sipping dusk,
                                                     dragon into the humble,
unsure where the snake, all myth and no romance,
                                                     will find its level.




All the roses spreading inland
and I remember too much of you
and all who admired tragic icons:
those who lived their lives in mid air,
spinning on chains;
you, who knew that both the purebreed
and the outhouse cur
would take a candy from the hand.

Memorial is cold need, polar: ‘land
of bears’ makes way, embraces
an ‘anti land of bears’.
What shock of what new?
What now? Not drawing and not statue.
And not a drawing of a statue. Too bare.
But a statue from a drawing of our faces
pressed together in the dawn might do.


RODDY LUMSDEN‘s seventh collection is The Bells of Hope (Penned in the Margins). He is Poetry Editor for Salt and Series Editor of The Best British Poetry.


Read more by Roddy Lumsden:

Poems at The Poetry Foundation