Friday, March 19, 2010

cover, catkins, audit

In the road discarded and squashed is the top of a drinks carton almost past recognition. Somebody, we should remember, designed it.

Seen from the train window, at this time of year, new hazel catkins like green rain.

Audits have been on my mind. We take stock, review, monitor, judge. We audit; we are audited. Daily, on high days and holidays and anniversaries, at equinoxes and solstices, with diaries and calendars, through windows and telescopes, binoculars and microscopes. It all comes together in a poem, which has been fermenting these last few days.

The Audit
Words you cannot do without
Grow scarce until they can
Just whisper like frantic wings.

Even balanced on a pin,
You cannot say goodbye like that
While faculties remain intact

To decorate and explain,
To earn the wherewithal to buy
A bag of chips, a pint of bitter;

To pursue conversations,
Which come and go like puffs of air,
In pubs, or walking by the sea.

The surplus makes you weep.
The books must be balanced
And love itself preserved

From extravagance and loss.
Letters in plastic sacks and files
Scattered like archipelagos,

On the floor, to navigate
Or be wrecked among,
Tell of lives half lived,

Of countries unexplored,
Of children waiting to be born
And voices in the room next door.

The auditors move in amazed:
(The particles dance on)
What they see is not there;

What they do not see is here,
Their task, to name what is no longer
Where it used to be, in the space

Between the spaces where it was
And will be again one day.
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Lucy said...

Good to see it here!

Lucas said...

That really rings a bell with me; stunningly good. It really captures what's missing in the way They - the auditors, the tick-boxers, the observers - judge our reality.
This ought to be compulsory reading for everyone who works in management.

marja-leena said...

What a great image! And the poem is so good, a really unusual way to think about 'audits'. I'd never thought of our observances of birthdays etc as audits, clever.

Roderick Robinson said...

Accountancy (or, at least bookkeeping) is a pretty rare theme to be bouncing in and out of a poem. All is grist... The most evocative part is "letters in plastic sacks", which seems to be a modern phenomenon but is, nevertheless, tempting. "Just a business letter," you tell yourself and yet a letter is a letter.

Once, in Quadrant House, I came upon a pile of carbons awaiting disposal and found a sequence by which a senior manager was justifying firing a more junior manager. I knew them both. It seemed typical of the senior manager, an insensitive man who liked shooting, to chuck out these intimate documents for anyone to see. Thus I audited the younger man's pain.