Poetry Workshop – The Guardian

This poem first appeared in The Guardian in October 2004

It’s only when he turns the pages, touches the paper,that his eyes light up

He keeps a scrapbook of images,
pictures clipped from magazines of places he’s never been.
Mountain ranges and forests
skyscrapers and empty boulevards.
He gazes at them and dreams.
Talks of the day when he will go there,
imagines sometimes he has walked these streets,
breathed unfamiliar mountain air.
Thoughts of these far off worlds
make his eyes shine
make the days pass
We are on a train
On our way to visit his father
As we rush through the city
pushing past railway sidings
and on through desolate wastelands
we stare at the craters
where the shipyards used to be
Empty and forlorn, no-one remembers them
save for his father.
This is a damaged landscape
Hit hard by progress
by winds of change
That no-one saw coming.
In the living room
his father sits at a table
scraps of wood and metal spread before him.
He’s assembling them.
Piecing together these fragile little boats
and when we enter he doesn’t look up.
Paintbrush in hand
he continues applying a splash of red to a sail.
Eyes bright and focused,
he fixes the sail to the mast
and another day has passed

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