Wednesday, 9 May 2012


Caledonian Park
8 May

Walking slowly, as instructed,
we enter the park
and take a path
between a hundred or so strange, still figures
in the trees, all in white
and staring, sleeping, ironing
or sitting with a piano
or a trumpet in the green
and playing soft, sweet, outdoor music.

It gets colder
and we step into a central space,
a field in a park, circled with tents
and bandstands.
It gets muddier and colder;
hands in pockets,
quite like a winter festival
where no one knows
quite what they ought to do.

We walk about a bit
and join in here and there:
knitting, stick house building,
drinking tea.
We help twist strips of hessian
onto a fire stick. We eat sweets
and dance in the mud to jazz.
I wish I had worn wellies.
Then, on the tower, it starts.

First, an older man, white-clad,
God-like, Einstein-like,
in a white light, speaks like a storyteller.
He says this is it. Here is the tower.
A symbol (of what?).
The lighting is lovely:
eyes in the clock face,
stairs in the tower, a dog barking,
a man rescued.

We are in darkness now, surrounded.
Is everyone an actor, suddenly?
And then a swarm of people holding boxes,
little houses all aglow with torches,
tea lights. The prettiest new township
moving in. Now there is dancing,
singing, applause. It is over, and we stream
towards the gates. We won, but I need to find out
what it was all supposed to mean.

Babel runs until 20 May at Caledonian Park, London

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