Rowland Bagnall

2 Poems

The Citizens

There used to be an image here, or not so much
an image as the first few muddled outlines of a scene,
encompassing a range of different timescales, lives and geographies,
and maybe something comes of it and maybe it doesn’t,

but really it’s the fact that there’s a known amount of uncaptured
activity around – the kind of stuff that tends to go especially
unnoticed, like the slow work of the gardener who takes immense
care with the trees – although exactly who this tragedy belongs to

is really anyone’s guess. So much has changed since then, for me:
perhaps it doesn’t matter if the scratches find a form or not;
perhaps it’s just the fact you have to wait until you’ve seen them
to have seen them. In a play I saw a while ago, the citizens

conspire to erase themselves completely, disappearing street
by street by methods which remain unclear. Towards the end of
the final act, the play falls open like the two halves of a piece of fruit
which seem to be identical until you look and find they’re not.


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