A blob of cheese? A bit of undigested potato? In any case, the product of a dream, though there are no spirits in it.

Coins I

Sovereigns: Hunting

Walking down the Kings Road
One foot on pale pathway,
Safe on the sidewalk
Encased in red trainer,
Falling apart. The other
Sluices round the leaf-strewn
Gutter, amidst the filth
Of food wrappers, rot,
Dried-blood spoilage
The traffic left, behind grinding
Hard toothed tires.

Cars honk at my back,
Bent and made broad
By my anorak, a visible red;
Rough lads call out, blessings,
Curses in their dream tongues,
As I bob down, magpie-like,
Sluicing trash through my fingers.

Down here, where the rot is,
The basest filth of this filthy town,
Down here where the death lies
Writ small amid the modern boneyard,
Among the stiffened rags, I can see,
Where no one else has looked,
The faint glimmer of gold.

Pale yellow, like pound coins,
Like the sun through a cloud,
The bright roundels of treasure,
Cast up from the depths,
The circles of light,
Gifts from the dead.

Here, looking down
Amid the bracken and the dirt
Of ages, the same sort of dirt
There has always been
Though it comes in different wrappers,
I plunge my bloody fingers down,
Risking infection,
And pluck up the true,
The tricky gold.

Brushed free of the pottage
From the garden that grew it,
Free from the forgotten leavings
Of man, I take the pieces,
Heavy and round in my fingers,
Nails split, bloody, with beneficent puss,
I test the true gold in my ghostly
Mortal palms, feeling the weight, the shift,
Intolerably solid. I look upon the cast face,
A King, surely, caught in profile,
The numinous made bearable.
My anorak has many pockets,
Down they clink,
This coin is not for spending.

I shall care for these treasures;
Display them to my lover, to friends,
A gift from the trenches
To pass from hand to hand.
This gold must always be in motion,
Always making the voyage from boneyard
To man, taking on flesh.
This treasure is constant for those
Who have trained their eyes to see it:
The scrapers in the rag end dust
The poets, certain children,
The hungry and the mad.
This gold is eternal,
Beyond the perishing body,
Kept still too long it twists
Like a knife in the hand
Leaving you bloody.

I have them, here, now, coins
For the moment,
But I shall give them back
To the darkness they sprung from.
And when my hands are empty,
When the wounds of seeking
Have healed at last,
Every scar healed, the wounds all dry,
I shall return here, one foot in the light
One foot in the gutter, bending
Again to my boneyard,
Risking the catcalls, risking
My death, seeking, finding,
Hunting the sovereigns,
The treasure, the gift
From the darkness,
Bending my face down
To where reality is,
To find brightness at last.


About Bethany W Pope

Bethany W Pope was named by the Huffington Post as ‘one of the five Expat poets to watch in 2016’. Nicholas Lezard, writing for The Guardian, described her latest collection as 'poetry as salvation'.....'This harrowing collection drawn from a youth spent in an orphanage delights in language as a place of private escape.' Bethany has won many literary awards and published several collections of poetry. Her first novel, Masque, was published by Seren in 2016. Her second novel, Ordinary Lives: The Ballad of John and Mary, was published in 2018. Follow her on Twitter @BethanyWPope

Posted on November 23, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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