I wake to a new world order.
My radio breaks the news
that suddenly the past
really is another country,
and my passport – my last
in burgundy – has become
a historical curiosity overnight.
To make tea seems
an act of betrayal now –
let it be coffee, croissants,
and let there be cheese,
quark, and a handful of leaves.
I am a citizen of Shadowland
and I have woken somewhere else.
DREAMING MOUNT FUJI
Tokyo. 3.30 a.m.
I have forgotten how to sleep
but I am dreaming Mount Fuji.
She’d pointed from the rooftop –
Over there, she said,
beyond those hills.
And absent half the year
for all we know
in this land, where
(or so we're told)
rabbits can be birds
I will not be here
to see the blossom
on the slopes but now,
whenever sleep defies me,
I shall dream Mount Fuji –
somewhere beyond those hills.
POSTCARD OF ODESSA
Clearing out another drawer,
I come across the postcard
quite by chance – sepia, faded,
the city’s name in Cyrillic script,
and before I know what I am doing
I am composing your name
in characters that are as unfamiliar
to me now as you are,
forty odd years on from the picnic
on the Potemkin steps, the glasses
raised to toast our futures
in the cheapest Soviet vodka;
and all the innocence you coaxed
from me, so tenderly.
It will soon be time for us to dress in red –
earth and dog will coincide as they did
six decades before, when our mothers gave birth
in the same ward the same dark Sunday
that Castro’s men seized one Juan Manuel Fangio.
His captivity would last mere weeks
while we have never escaped each other,
our childhoods lived in neighbouring towns,
adolescences companionably endured, and
all the rest – encounters here and there, reunions
formal and informal, weddings once, then funerals –
and when we’re sixty we’ll celebrate our rebirthing
like the Japanese, clink glasses and toast in saké
those women who shared a ward, gave birth.
They say it smells of dead holidays.
I say it always did. And out of season
was never the time to connect anything
with anything here, where you can only
wonder at the sea in all the shades
of grey on Richter’s palette, wonder
where the ice-cream vendors go
and if the deckchair man can really
hibernate in his cave beneath the cliff,
with his chairs, his memories of summer.
On the pier a salt breeze ruffles
a scrap of gaudy poster, and offshore,
somewhere close, a ship’s bell tolls
for something gone, for some thing .
Jeremy Page has edited the bi-annual literary journal The Frogmore Papers since 1983. He is the author of several collections of poems, most recently Closing Time (Pindrop, 2014) and Stepping Back: Resubmission for the Ordinary Level Examination in Psychogeography (Frogmore Press, 2016). His translations of the Lesbia poems of Catullus were published as The Cost of All Desire by the Ashley Press in 2011. In 2015 he co-edited an anthology of life writing, True Tales from the Old Hill. A novella, London Calling is scheduled for publication by Cultured Llama in September. He lives in Lewes, UK, and is currently Director of the Centre for Language Studies at the University of Sussex.