Read ‘On Tombland, or Empty Space’
And since we pre-exist our names,
since land is land before it’s claimed
for use, it isn’t hard to stop amidst these streets
these houses & their timber frames & wonder
who lies here, beneath. Sleeping peacefully
or not. Or restlessly – taken by some older plague
more fatal than the ones we know now.
Whose spirits walk beside us, hungry
for glance or touch; a little laugh, a brief kiss,
a sympathy or a vengeance, unable to let go,
unwanting to step into the light until then.
What are the names of those who lie here?
Or rather, what are the ways that names lie –
tombland not as of graves or grave histories, but
something lighter than that, tombland simply
as empty space, or market place – free space to sell
& pitch a stall, years ago & still now. Time lasts,
or maybe doesn’t. We come & go about our days;
we pass through them as flicking through a book:
each brick a word, street lane a chapter, reading –
without knowing – the remains of centuries,
finding nothing empty about this place.