for Richard Price
The poet kibbled among flowers: acanthus and lilac, the extremely unglaswegian hosted beneath our palace of glass, twined to our iron buttresses and trellises. Under the dripping threshold of Botanic Gardens our poet launched his poems at us as we parked our bums in the very entrance-way to Eden. And his quiet voice gathered them, infallibly, gathered the people to the previously quiet lytchgate to the flowers; as if he had unlocked the trees, unbraided the long ears of the palms and now folk could walk past, past the poet’s words and use them to step in, lie or sit on benches and eat their noisy lunch-box apples.
Pigeons shuffled the rainy roof above his head, dealing his words to the air, to the children’s cries which took them up and trumped them with their own. And all the people passed him, indifferent, embarrassed, apologetic, smiling, stony-faced, indignant, but each pocketed, each snuck up a word as he side-stepped them in mid-flight: ‘trout are influential’, ‘aquaflora’, of course, caught like burrs on the double buggy’s wheels as it carriaged weans towards the greenery. ‘A hem of air’ stitched a down-and-out’s frayed hems and the name ‘Fiona’ savoured the lips of a royally built black woman who tossed it back to you with nonchalant contempt. And they were there, the people, not listening to you but listening as their bodies took the imprint of that awkwardness where language washed like a sea taken from its element and dashed about the Kibble’s deck. And later they’ll remember the day they dodged your words to make their rendezvous with plants, faced down poems to make their tryst with fronds. Not that they’ll thank you but they’ll think about language and it will thank them for you.