Front Page by Gillian Clarke

from the chapbook “Making the Beds for the Dead”

Front Page

It’s the photograph that does it.
A man howling for his child.
You can’t forget it
despite a let up in the rain,
sunlight on a river,
a flight of geese over an estuary.
It’s a rucksack of sorrow
on your shoulder, on your mind.

Try leaving it on the platform
to be defused like a suspect package.
Try leaving it on the train,
personal belongings
they remind you to take.
Try to lose, bin, burn it,
indestructible as polythene
of flowers in a filthy stairwell.

Maybe just this once
we should forego the minute’s silence.
Maybe this time, in supermarket,
street and school and public square,
studio, station, stadium,
standing together, eyes closed,
we should throw back our heads
for a one minute howl.

Carcanet Press