My child, Ludwig van Beethoven –
who I have named
in honour of the famous composer
Lugwig van Beeglog, himself named
in honour of
the famous composer’s
Lugwig van Beethoven
whose grandchild was
that same man
but replaced by sunlight streaming through a window
– is walking by a river.
‘What is this lake called?’
‘It is a river. It is the River Trent.’
‘Good god. I thought it was a lake.’
He chatters on
to me inside his mind; Spem in alium
heard and welcomed
from a passing submarine.
I am long dead and never here,
and would not have known
it was the River Trent. But no matter.
I think that may not be the point.
My son Ludwig stops to pelt a duck with moss.
‘Look at that stupid duck,’ he says.
I am very proud of him, though dead,
as mentioned. This is very much the thing –
the persistence of death,
the length and total quality of it;
the darkness is a shadow flattened
just beyond our holding cell.
My son Ludwig interrogates my ghost
as to why I came to live here;
why and how I loved or lost here;
asks what buildings did I build here;
– what mark?
‘And when was the last time, dad,’
he wonders loudly in my ear,
‘that you called this here a here?’
I don’t know my answer yet,
looking forwards, aimless virtue
on my mind which doesn’t feel
tied to a place so much as
gagged and bound in opulence –
my craving for candles and crowds.
Could it be April 8th this year?
Midnight ticks ever closer like
an oven clicking down at night.
My son Lugwig..
No more words: this fake unlaked scene
recedes like poet Dickey’s dream –
Nottingham stretches back forever
watching me leave in the dark.
‘I never come back, I never,’
I say, unknowing unknown history.
The car is big and black tonight –
the sky is cold and dark tonight.
When I die I will have lived here –
when I die I’ll sort of be here,
of here; of everywhere and here:
this city part of everywhere, of time.
My time. If to live in Nottingham
was to be put to death I would still
waltz to the guillotine tonight.
If Ludwig were here he would ask if
I did right to come here like I came:
full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,
again and again and again.
One certain truth –
there is a light, a light, a light.
And as Larkin said we must be kind
to each other
before there is no time.
Or thereabouts. I haven’t read it for a time.
When I leave all I can think, over
and over, as consuming as nothing,
as total as night – what first:
come back or die?
‘You are now leaving Nottinghamshire.’
Will I come back before I die?
Or will exploding memory after my life
still find – only this, only this. Only
what has been already –
the city, the water, Ludwig, and me.
So many footsteps out of time –
what dream have I now woken from?
Featured image is “View of Nottingham from the East”, Jan Siberechts, ca. 1695