Vanessa Gebbie writes poetry and fictions of all shapes and sizes, teaches writing and is contributing editor of Short Circuit, Guide to the Art of the Short Story (Salt).
Cenotaph, London 2014
Under duress, stone gives
up its constituent parts.
Ancient shells, sediment
filled, crystalline. These
fell gently, a rain of mollusc
debris, bivalve, gastropod,
landed in the near-silence
of seabed crepitation, the
ceaseless whisper of silt.
The Euston Mob and Caroline
i m 3719 men of the L N W Railway Company commemorated on the Euston War Memorial
They wait for her outside the station
as they always do, heads bowed, eyes closed
as if they are asleep.
She knows they are trying their best
not to flinch each time a siren wails
down Euston Road.
She knows they were taught
to stand on guard, ammo boots buffed
until the leather looks wet with rain.
She knows they marched here
that last day, through deadened streets,
heads awash with last minute orders
not to faint. To stand
at each corner of the catafalque,
north, south, east and west,
to close their eyes not to see
the approaching grey of loss
of consciousness. To flex
the knees, the toes, to stop the blood
pooling in the lower extremities,
to stop the legs growing heavy,
as if they are turning to stone.
[‘Cenotaph, London 2014’ : First published by Matter Press Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, February 2014. ‘The Euston Mob and Caroline’ : First broadcast on BBC Southern Counties Radio, subsequently published in The Half-life of Fathers (Pighog), November 2013.]
Back to The Needlewriters’ Companion