Saturday, May 27, 2006

Poem Of The Week: 'Pyramid' by Tim Cunningham



The curtain falls on the Royal George Hotel,
Final as the granite doors shuddering down
To seal the burial chamber of some pharaoh.

This is where their curtain opened when
Spotlights caught their drama, fixed them centre stage
Improvising those first faltering lines.

This is where he sent the cards stamped ‘Cairo’:
Camels, dusty streets, white dishdashas,
Baked walls, a sepia pyramid.

This was the address for urgent love
Notes from the front. Later, the dictated
Letters, photos of the fresh war grave.

Now the theatre is dark, all seven floors
And basement. Plywood blinds the windows, guards
The doors like sentinels with flaming swords.

I hoard the letters like a treasured
Folio. His promises in pencil
And blue ink lie boxed beside the sun-bleached cards.

And the hotel where they fetched and carried,
As if dancing attendance on a king,
Has changed its lease, become their pyramid.

Its four sides face the four points of the compass;
Reed mats decorate the limestone walls;
Chiselled hieroglyphs decode the past.

By day, the lovers wait for gaps in cloud,
Shinny the sun’s rays, enter stage left
The open-air theatre of the gods.

By night, they stroll with Isis down cool corridors.
The building’s apex takes its bearings, points
To their propitious circumpolar star.

Tim Cunningham was born in Limerick in 1942 and educated at Limerick C.B.S. and Birkbeck College, London. He has lived in Limerick, Tipperary, Dublin, Trowbridge, London, Newark (Delaware) and, presently, Billericay. He has published and read widely. His first collection, 'Don Marcelino's Daughter' was published by Peterloo Poets in 2001 and reprinted in 2002 and 2004. 'Unequal Thirds' is scheduled to appear, again Peterloo, in autumn 2006.


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