Newcastle University Group Writers


I. Final Archive

And what is the collective noun
for a stack of diaries?
The first, a small red volume
is zipped on three sides.

Scarlet card wraps treasured pages.
Four children camping, fishing, fighting,
shared the nightly chore of writing.
Fifty years ago; now a holiday relived.

My evanescent track of life is nailed
at intersections by events in the greater world.
Where was I when Kennedy was shot?
When Neil Armstrong landed on the moon?

Beneath the bench amongst strips of wood
that might come in handy when the going is good,
lie bottles of wine, red elder and flower
slowly maturing for another year.

I hear the rusty hinge of my grey box complain
as white-gloved hand disturbs once precious bits of lives;
without them, and this tiny ancient coffin,
picked-over, pale, the memory bones alone remain.

On ice white slab,
rounded, mounded, shrouded form,
formaldehyde scents the non alive
– The final archive?


II. Incognito

Let me clasp you in my folded arms
and whisper to you a message:

blood clots dissolved in old jars of rat poison,
grey pairs of TED stockings stuffed in a drawer,

unfinished notebooks, associations and connections
linking the public and professional with the private –

jump out of my history of searches,
the time I discovered incognito

those indigestible secrets
stuck fast in my craw –

bright words gone tumbling into fog,
a captured thought escaping in the mist.

Stop, breathe; hear children’s laughter and silent tears
drifting together through the spiral of life.


III. Veil and Cloak

‘Happenings’ I shine a light on. Some I veil
and cloak but they are like burning embers
in a deep, dark recess. Shall I venture into this cave?

Closeted behind long dresses,
an empty box lies in a safe,
‘Top Secret’ marked on the sides.

Treasured within the fortress of my heart,
memories paint shades of black, yellow and red.
Sorrow and joy have settled here, made my heart their home.

Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future. Ray Bradbury, science fiction writer