Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mandarins (revised)

(This being a True Account of an Occurrence taking place on the Second Floor of No. 1, Horse Guards Road, in the Offices above the Chancellor's Suite, working Necessarily Late one Evening in the Month of March, 2006)

It takes a squint to catch him: don't look -
he's there! See him stare across the room,
a man stripped from his time, bemused by desks
and phones, dividing screens, fluorine lights
that make his inky fingers glow. He frowns
beneath his wig, a blot of mud still wet
around his calf. Why is he here? His arm
curls round parchments, briefs and notes
with cotton ribbons wound about. When I turn
my head a touch he starts, returns the glance.
I smile: 'see us', my eyebrows arch, 'both lost
inside this Treasury, too poor to seek escape'

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