Stephen Grace

Metempsychosis & circa 1950

Stephen Grace

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Strange currencies, the pop and fizz

of salts and acids recalling nothing

so much as birdsong down the Amazon,

snake trails over the Gobi,

and there, under the tripod and gauze,

a faint trace of the form

of Muhammed ibn Zakariya

al-Razi as he hunches over

his alembic, sifting residues

and staring into the distance,

his mind as inured to mystery

as the indigo-stained hand

of a dyer stooped again to his vat

and dreaming, of maps and legends,

of the old Silk Road’s teeming caravans. 

circa 1950

By what are we to judge? The starch
accoutrements they'd clap him in
for christenings and jubilees,
his collar, tie and braces arched
like a monument before
the camera's antiquarian flash,

or his hand around her waist
on a ridge outside Cordoba,
the Woodbine - which he was later
to recant - mouthing smoke and ash
through the matt finish of a sky
they were steeling themselves to leave,
before the junta bled it dry.

Stephen Grace

Stephen Grace lives and works in York, where he is a part-time PhD candidate in the Department of English and Related Literature.  He helps to edit the poetry journal, Eborakon.