Guest Poem by Polly Walshe

Polly Walshe was born in London. Recently her poems have appeared in Shearsman, Artemis, The Spectator, Snakeskin, The High Window, The Frogmore Papers and The London Magazine. This year she was highly commended in the Frosted Fire poetry pamphlet competition and in 2019 she was the winner of The Frogmore Prize. Her novel The Latecomer was published in 1997 and won a Betty Trask Award.

Painting You

There is a city in your face,
I see it in the shadows this fierce light creates.
You build a new one every day –

Babylon was there, a shimmer of Jerusalem
And many a smaller place.
They will all fall but only one of them will rise again.

Are your cities sealed
Or do they flirt and flutter early, late?
At dusk do they admit the dark, showing their pearls,

Their lace to every night wind?
Straight past your gates
Long yellow fields jump up, stare brazenly,

Then race into the scrub.
Your wilderness is pocked with pixel men,
Their coppices and disappointed gods,

It has no tenements, no retail malls
And to stay out there too long makes you unreal.
You say you have no interest in unearthly laws

But then I see you glance.