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MARY ANNE PERKINS

 

Mary Anne Perkins

Mary Anne Perkins, a retired historian of ideas, lives in west London. Her books include Coleridge’s Philosophy (1994); Nation and Word, 1770-1850 (1999); and Christendom and European Identity (2004). Her first collection of poetry, Shadow-Play, was published as a result of winning the Reach Poetry Summer Collection Prize in 2009. Since beginning to submit poetry for publication and competitions in 2007, she has also been long-listed for the Bridport Prize and a runner-up in the Fish Third International Poetry Competition (2008).

 

 

 

 

Angel on the Footbridge

 

I met him on the concrete steps

over the railway line. Whether chance

or design, it was certainly out of the blue,

with none of the glitter or razzamatazz

you might expect; no hallelujah host above

the parapet, singing in solidarity; not a seraph

or wing to be seen amongst the plastic litter

 

and broken glass. How could I know?

I waited patiently to pass, allowing him time

to negotiate the pitted steps (untrue

I suspected him of spending a night or two

in the company of rougher spirits and kept

my distance, preferring to lag behind in

the blended stink of vomit, piss and drink).

 

But he stopped to lean on the rail awhile,

between the scrawls of crude graffiti sprayed

on the concrete walls. So I moved a wary smile

to the top of my list of evasions, stepping up

briskly to let him know I had business to go to;

until, accidentally, I met his eyes and saw myself

unexpectedly exposed.

 

He spoke with a strange formality, as if

the language were new to him and little used;

but his words were a gift as rare to me

as feathers plucked from prodigious wings,

and by their light, I saw that, in the smartest suit

of reason I possessed, I was no better dressed

than if I had worn the emperor’s new clothes.

 

Each of the shabby pockets of my life,

was thoroughly turned out, revealing holes

and emptiness. Then each was filled again

with nothing less than the hope I had thought

was lost; and when he left – perhaps

I should say when I turned to look for him

and he was gone – I was not utterly bereft.

 

 

©2010 Mary Anne Perkins

 

 

Author Links

 

Review of Shadow Play

Perkins at De Gruyter Press

Perkins at Ashgate Publishing

 

 

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