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Dominic Fisher Poetry

As if a tree could stutter briefly into being
 lose all its leaves then vaporise”

Bonfire Night from a Loft Window 

Words for bread

Though it’s getting greener, it’s been a hard winter, and I don’t particularly mean the weather. You don’t need me to tell you how much people are struggling at the moment, how those somehow still in power have more wealth and influence than most of us can imagine, how wealth and influence seems to be all they are concerned with. But it is in our power to change things, make things, look after each other, as many many people are already doing.

On Sunday 26th of March I’ll be reading at Torriano Meeting House in London’s Kentish Town, alongside Kathy Pimlott. We’ll be sharing poems we’ve made, perhaps even in small ways sparking change, offering some possibilty of green growth. One of the poems I’m going to read is below. It came out of an encounter with a homeless Syrian refugee. We shared no word of common language but he reminded me of my father, dead now more than a decade. I have no idea how he got to the UK. Much more important to me is the knowledge of what he fled, and that he managed the two-thousand miles plus from Damascus to Bristol with a damaged leg. I hope he has shelter now.

Making words for bread

He was squatting on a bundle
by the bakery, with a jar
and a walking stick beside him.
On a board unpractised letters
inches high, said I have no house.
You thought of your father, but then
he spoke, and it wasn’t English.
So you both stood at the window
to make another language there
coining with your hands loaf and eat.

Much later, in your head, he said
in Damascus I had a house.
Damascus, where seven gates
see all of it, the trade, the wars
streets now like shattered bone, and that
we have no father guiding us,
that stars know nothing but themselves.
But still I got here though it was
to beg outside a bakery
without the words I need for bread.

(From A Customised Selection of Fireworks
 Shoestring Press, 2022)