Simon Armitage at the Gala Theatre
Like two giddy schoolgirls, off to fawn over
rock stars at Wembley, Alice and I
half-run, half-stumble, down Elvet Hill.
Fast leaving St Mary's behind,
we are town centre-bound.
At the Gala Theatre, we find ourselves
almost front row - so close as the lights
dip low. Simon and his poetic gang appear -
take it in turns to read a masterpiece.
(With many hearts stitched on sleeves.)
So casually do they flick the word 'love',
repeatedly, into the audience.
It’s as if I’m thirteen again,
and Henry Fulton is throwing
biro after biro in my direction.
You know, I'm quite bewildered
by the speed of this change – still trying
to get my head around the semantic shift.
I know what 'love' meant - but what now?
I am experiencing a deviation to the past tense.
In limbo, it seems - waiting for reincarnation;
the golden girl gaining a different glow.
But this change is not so steady. Like a stuttering
heart, it is fast-slow, fast-slow... Finding
myself in a familiar pattern of letting go.
And still that word persists from the poets' lips.
One syllable like a gunshot. I receive another
blow when Simon, last up, starts
a discussion about Bob Dylan; that fine line
between poet and musician.
Finally - a question and answer session.
No one moves, or dares to speak.
And all of a sudden, I'm envisioning myself
standing up and asking him, Simon,
if he remembers you...
If he knew he was something
of a third wheel for us two;
part of that essential poetic glue
that drew us together. Could
he read it in your expression?
Can he see it in mine now?
But no... I'm still sitting in my seat.
The woman in front raises her hand.
Alice yawns at my side... And this poem
starts forming in my head.