Shock is the first thing you feel, finding them there
across your path, their hollow heads
and bodies clad in lead, figures of change
blocking the way, suddenly distancing
all about them in a world you thought you knew.
Questioning, the statues watch in your skin,
not as cairns of stones on a moorside
stoically marking the places you will never reach
but crafted selves, husks of a conscience,
inner voices that speak your fears.
It is difficult to say how far we reach
though the patinas of lead, as the harsh words
founder, lost in our mouths, echoing
from far away, and saying, Try, try.
So now, on our way, we nod as we pass.
As the rusted angel of the north,
the fixed wing of Jacob’s ladder,
spreads its mended spirit over Durham,
over those of us who, unable to fly off,
stay weighted and quite still as the surf
rolls in - erodible, patient of the least waves,
limed and lichened and a long time waiting
in our welded bodies without even a cloth
that might pre-empt the breeze - the zephyrs
of sculpture that mark out its real space -
so we three figures, motionless on the beach,
kneel in the inhalation of the salt air,
or stand, or gaze down into tidal water,
into the depths I see when I close my eyes.
They left us outside in your metal skin
far from the warm hearth, to seethe and grieve
and suffer winter. We gleamed in the rain.
We are heavy objects that partition sleet,
cadastral bourns that mark out landscapes,
stamping them with your reflection.
We distract the walkers as they pass by
wrinkling their faces, or they fondle us
or poke fingers through our eyes. It is bleak
to be cast as provocateur for life,
for the paths of our un-burnished thoughts
offer no bend or turns or other cheek.