The two poems below, form a triptych with The Wizard of Cov and Collectively sit under the title: The Wizard, the Witch and the Flatpack. They were written specifically for the Coventry & Dresden Friendship Festival and also as an extension to my Coventry City of Culture commission.

 

I  THE WIZARD OF COV

 

II  SHELF LIFE OF A SPELL

 

Clouds soaked in the-end of-the-world

fall like dead birds

the way grief thumps on an empty stomach.

Entrails of mist, wisp and warp

curdle round feet that know

not how to walk.

 

If I were a witch’s cat

I’d claw back every single bit of magic

stuck in the nooks of stars

that curled in their points

and let the sky grow heavy.

 

I have one spell left

in my hat, which may turn

to a curse if not cast

by its dead-by-date

already late

to its blackened end.

 

Look! London Bridge is falling down,

falling down my green ladies,

and everything around it…

 

Slowly, a wing began to glimmer

steering the light

off a wide wicked tooth.

From glimmer to glamour

they all lifted up their prayers

back high into the night,

pricked at the moon

with their quills all a quiver

 

and wrote a new world

with new rules

and new lies

with new words

you couldn’t break

or burn.

 

Lightly, the cumulus followed,

re-spread to the brink,

lifted its veil wedded to our eyes

and the past was nowhere to be seen.

 

 

III  FLATPACK PHANTASTICAL

 

The cities arrived

in a flatpack of streets,

homes and bones—

A to A

B to B

C twinned with D

because Dresden was sent to Coventry.

 

It was a major reconstruction

dreamed from a page with no instructions

but the screws were all spooled from flames

that at least showed you where to drill.

 

When the bridge rose to life

I criss-crossed through a carnival

of wood and blood that splintered

out my sight and

each step was chopped in all directions.

 

Little cuts scuttled off across

the scar scraped terrain

where flowers cracked

their rigid backs

to find the wildness in the rain

that spoke in ashes

as mute as their mother’s tongue.

 

At night, each petal folded in its prayer,

squeezed the darkness out until

it dripped back to its despair,

and then...blasted out

by the morning sun.

 

The cities were returned

in their flatpacks of streets,

homes and bones—

A to A

B to B

but C still twinned to D;

another spell that cannot be broken

or wardrobed off.

© Sujatha Menon 2021