to the Tate by Toni Stuart

Toni Stuart | February 2nd, 2011 | poetry | No Comments

from Waterloo station
walk the length of the Southbank:
feel your nose and cheeks
in the icy November sun.
the river is calm today
the bank is too
…quiet footsteps
trace their own paths:
winding ways with worn feet

walk slow
walk with your head up
and watch the breath from
warm bodies paint Christmas wishes in
the fading light

walk slow
walk mindful
and hear the silence of the cold
dance with the noise of your thoughts
across the still river

catch your mind
as it wonders on summer legs
to your land far
and the people
whose hearts you know the insides of well

catch your mind,
call it back to this river bank,
to your cheeks pink and your nose

keeping walking now
along Oxo Tower
peer into the boutiques
and then,
turn your heard
to that river as your feet fumble
along Jubilee walkway
keep walking.
warm yourself for a moment
as you pass under the bridge
and fill your ear
with the busker’s xylophones
playing worn-out Christmas carols
that pull a smile across your face
and draw
an ache of longing
across your chest

keep walking
keep the river
on your left
and your chin thrust out
against the cold

once passed the bookshop,
look up to your right
and you will see it: a brown
expanse of nothingness
grey clouds

wind your way
right left
mind the grey-haired coat and his dog
side-step the Spanish students
as you find your way
to the entrance

resist the gift shop
descend the flight of stairs
to the Turbine Hall
now, you are here:
as you take in
the crack
running through your heart
which Doris Salcedo recreated
on the Turbine’s floor
for all the
world to see.

*written in response to Doris Salcedo’s Shibboleth, part of the Unilever Series for 2007, at the Tate Modern Gallery.

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