Saturday, 19 April 2008


History Society Picnic with Arthur Cubit

The celery dipped in salt,
no pepper, and the wine
chilled in the river, not
from the fridge. Sticking
to documented foibles we
laid the patchwork cloth
on the short grass, sloping
with the sun undulating in
and out across the Downs.

These moments feeling right,
we praised the books we knew
he loved, and his own re-
examination of Auden, in the Star;
and it seemed the atmosphere
pleased our distinguished guest.
Someone derisively
cracked a joke about his old
adversaries, the second Phalanx –
the first splinter of
the Socialist Collective.
Laughter spread through
the occasion from those
who could not see his face,
his eyes darkening; then

he spoke: “Is that meant to be funny?
What gives you the right
to mock the heroic, my
companions in struggle –
insult to the Working Class.”
Silence arrested our flow;
from behind me came
the scrunching of a plastic cup;
clouds undulated
across the Downs, like sheep
entering a pen.

I was glad I’d asked
Cubit to sign his poems
in the pub before the picnic,
in the safely atmospheric
wood and glass interior
where we have our
Saturday morning meetings
every other week.

No comments:

Post a Comment