Time to take up my staff, to go
Into homelier regions, where the sun shines
On the miserable householder,
Where bread vans scout the towns.
Here children, eyes like marble,
Gathered in rings or playing fivestones,
Point the way to go. To be like them
You must first enter the Kingdom of Heaven:
Impossible journey, given up
As soon as I began it. On the table
Beside me I have some shells, stones,
And picked flowers in a broken cup.
It is everything I know
Of joy, limitation. Like the sea,
The narrow sea returning to the shore,
Having the power to contain me.
Not till I saw their well, no longer there,
Did I appreciate that poverty
Beats rootedness to earth, displacing people
Who must have known a lonely kind of joy
Before herding together on train, steamship.
David Cameron was born in Glasgow in 1966 and now lives near Belfast. He is the author of two books of fiction and a book of poetry – all three were chosen among the Books of the Year (2000, 2014 and 2016) in the UK press. His poems are collected in The Bright Tethers: Poems 1988-2016 (Rune Press, Cork, 2016). In 2014 he received the Hennessy Literary Award for Poetry.
Photograph by Shadowgate, CC 2.0