Gary Allen: ‘The Pict Museum’ and ‘Wing Walking’

The Pict museum

The Pict museum, there is nothing in it
only pieces of stone archway, with Pictish writing
that can’t be deciphered. A stubborn people
small and dark, how did they define themselves?
in lost ceremonies and sacrifices and wars
sullen in the impenetrable pine forests
in a language without an ear, like a lost people
whose name is missing with their hill forts
and sacred stones and valuables, whose bodies
lie silent and unknown under slabs, underground
chambers, hollow tree boats, intermarried with the Scots
their museum is of bone and carved faces of Gods
without voices, wind-sounding boles. Their place
in history is now cardboard boxes set high on dusty
shelves at the back of the museum, tucked under
the feet of time, the silence of the museum on summer
evenings, the halls huge and quiet, the corridors
ghostly, the clocks ticking backwards in their own time
the clouds of midges in the sun-shafts of the deep forest.

Gary Allen

Wing walking

Wing walking in the air is like flying
with your feet firmly on the ground
it’s how a hawk sees the land
before it zips through the air upon its prey
it’s how a crane driver feels the sway in his cab
above dry docks and waterways

only the hissing wind
and the static of voices zinging in the ear
without fear in the oval horizon of the snow shaker

the hawk hits the spinning earth with a shudder
its beak and talons choking and raking on soil and flesh
the crane driver hangs precariously on a weight balanced jib
and feels stomach-sick in the thin air
the wing walker exhilarates

the wing walker in the air is an optimist
who sees everything in an askew glimpse
who balances life from foot to foot
from the hoop to hoop of a taut wire.

Gary Allen



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