Three poems; a timeline ripping across north London

by David McCormack

A personal timeline through my early history

1. Holloway Road, Islington N19

From Fairmead Road to Eden grove,

along Marx’s pilgrim route,

daily journey to and from school,

holding my mother’s hand, tightly,

or riding, a tiny pillion papoose n

my father’s modest auto-cycle

weaving intricate patterns

between giant grazing trolley buses

engorging and disgorging their freight

 

2. An Islington Spring, circa, 1957

Lilacs spangled by spring shower

In a child’s hand mother bound,

crossing threshold and a taboo of Irish

superstition, “No, son,” she said,

“Get them out of here. They invite

Death in here, as a guest. At least

bad luck. Bad luck and a keening

Banshee at our door.”

 

3. Old Snap shot

Here is my father

sitting astride a modest motorcycle,

caught, I guess, between

The speed of light

And the reflexive iris of a box camera.  

 

There he is drained of all colour,

made anaemic by the monochrome process

made more poignant in the two

decades since his death.  

 

Here my father is Lord of the moment,

occupying space and time …

Indeed, despite being a meagre

rent paying tenant in this north

London house … he is sovereign

of this topos and a colourful

loci in my memory.  

 

Angle, seemingly Novelle Vague

but I was a toddler.

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