Monday, 7 September 2015


Here's the redraft of the poem written at Manchester Museum


We came from somewhere and now we are not there - 
we journeyed across the miles, the centuries
and over the strange lands of our own lives,
sometimes with nothing more than our names, our faces - 
the death mask, the label and the few things
we  fastened to ourselves with buckles we crafted
from iron or gold. We pinned ourselves 
to the world around us by our naming of it. 
We remembered ourselves in the stories
we shared, in wolves and forests. 

Like tea or cotton we belonged not to the land,
the trader, the user, but to ourselves, though collected
and dispersed. Alongside dodos, tree-frogs, moths,
we belonged to places and the place changed. 
We carried the few coins it seemed we owned
until they left our hands for the hands of others. 
We made ourselves in things, in the guard for a sword,
in paper, in gold. We watered crops, collected butterflies,
heard ourselves in bird song, and caged the birds.
We became the coin, the buckle, the dagger. 

We made sanctuary for small pulsing amphibians
in tanks. We try, somehow, to hold the world
together, with small buckles and bandages as we bind
our dispersing bodies with cloth. We buried our coins
and our dead to keep them close. We named the place. 
But we are always leaving, like exhibits in crates,
cases lying empty, waiting for work to be done –

until it seems that where was never the thing at all.