Advent poems 12: Borders, by Peter Carpenter




Ground Floor between Fiction and Poetry.
The second time in as many days. It comes at me.
The smell from where she sits between Travel
and Crime is enough to make browsers wrinkle
features in ‘what is that?’ disgust. She stinks.

Because clothes for sleeping rough, layer upon
layer, are being walked in, underneath the visible
leather-sheen great-coat and cap. Auschwitz?
That liberation shot on the wire? No, here, beneath,
the 3 For 2 CD offers in the Borders summer sale.

The truth is she impregnates every last page of verse:
the entire Carcanet list, the brand new Armitage,
the Collected Muldoon, the Selected O’Hara, the new
Billy Childish, 101 Poems That Will Change Your Life
you name it. We all track on by, join a queue

to pay by plastic. She exits into Market Square, freeing
up from under the cap her long streak-grey hair,
making her way beyond us. I keep finding her
days later, unremitting, unbearable still, in page
after page of Paul Celan or Miklós Radnóti.


Peter Carpenter, from After the Goldrush (Nine Arches Press, 2009)

With thanks to Peter Carpenter


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