George Szirtes
Pearl Grey



Holding the egg was like trying to balance
light at the tip of your fingernail. It rose
almost weightless, a bubble born of chance
and sky at the point where creation froze
to one brief statement now about to crack.
There was a pair of ear-rings once, two pearls
in golden corollae gently peeled back
round hard glassy mist, nestling above curls
of hair. She might have been my mother, or
any other woman of a certain time
that now seems gone (though who can be that certain?)
There were clouds and scent of rain outside the door.
It was spring or summer, you could hear the chime
of ice-cream vans, the rustling of the curtain.

All time was concentrated in that egg
and life was delicate. Birds bustled in hedges,
slurring languages. One pecked at a clothes-peg,
another tugged at a worm at the edges
of vision. Time was simply the product
of flight and language. It was saying this
quietly to itself while waiting to self-destruct.
Light stood in a cup, too petrified to kiss
the draining board. Everything stopped in fear.
My mother sat in the kitchen. I was elsewhere.
The ice-cream van was chiming. It was grey
outside, I remember. There, below her ear
hung the pendant or maybe it was hair.
The egg was slightly rocking on the tray.

 Water
 Reel
 America
George Szirtes
fot. archiwum autora


Selected Poems, OUP, 1996
The Budapest File, Bloodaxe 2000
English Apocalypse, Bloodaxe 2001
Metro, OUP, 1998
Reel, Bloodaxe, 2004




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