slab
a collection of concrete poems and photographs

.................................................................................
It is raining softly and I am not a trustworthy narrator. In the pale light I leave Mile End Road at the western fringe of Queen Mary College, where mattresses slouch in line by Stepney Fried Chicken and the veiled bus queue spills on to the blue cycle superhighway. I reach a pointed arch timber doorway on a high wall beyond which lies a cemetery, a small plot not even an acre marked by over a thousand graves, enclosed on all sides by student halls and garden walls of terraced cottages. The tombstones rest flat to the earth, not one with an upstanding tablet. In twenty-three rows they keep close company, bare stone or wreathed in moss that clings to this old world, full oblong or shattered and absorbed into the ground, ties of blood woven together by the roots of sixteen trees that split and swallow manuscript. Some inscriptions are still legible today, cut in Portuguese and Hebrew, some Spanish, few English, recording little more than foreign names and dates and the rare indulgence that paints portraits of this community in quick strokes, ‘the bird catcher’, ‘sweet poet’, ‘maiden’, ‘son of the harp player’. Others are worn plain until this rain collects and fills faint hollows, and for a moment their ancient epitaphs gleam, complete, then are gone, overflowing as tributaries branch and blot from word to word when, flooded, the stones become a mirror.

It will be published next year by Copy Press.
.................................................................................

 
 
http://davidjamesroberts.com/files/gimgs/th-33_33_stones-and-text.jpg
 
 
http://davidjamesroberts.com/files/gimgs/th-33_slab 3.jpg
 
 
http://davidjamesroberts.com/files/gimgs/th-33_slab 2.jpg
 
 
http://davidjamesroberts.com/files/gimgs/th-33_slab 1.jpg