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Colouring In

John Foggin


This is what I have learned
in the streets of my town which is made of stone.
There are thirty-seven steps. At the foot,
in a cold iron pot, are flowers. They tell me: these are blue.

They are soft and velvet as the inside of my cat’s ear.
They say: the sky is blue, the last house of the street
is blue, and so is Mary the mother of God of the miracles.
My cat’s soft velvet ear is blue. The sky is soft,
also the last house, and the mother of God.

The church is built of brick, which is rough-edged,
straight-lined, sharp-angled. And this is yellow.
Yellow is the shape of bricks.

Birds clap form the towere where the bell is hung.
They sound like wet cloths on a line in a gust.
Laundry looks like birds. A line of washing
chatters and fratches. Sparrow laundry.

The small square is paved with hexagons,
each one just bigger than my foot.
They say: these are grey and blue.
Grey and blue is a jigsaw to be trodden.

Pale grey is a roughness on my fingertips.
Green whispers and smells of rain.

On days like this warm day
the sky is a cat’s ear
and is listening me.



John's introduction to the poem: "A couple of weeks ago I took my eye on a walk round Relleu, a small town of high, narrow streets, full of odd angles and intersections. Every day when I took that walk, a blind man would appear, from different directions, and each day, in a different hat. What was his village? Not the one I was seeing and storing up, that’s for sure. So I had a go at finding it. I don’t know if I did, but here it is." John has visited the Almassera Vella several times. His poems have appeared in The New Writer, Ware Poets, Leaf Books (‘Ukraine, and other poems’), and The North. He won the Plough Prize (2013) and the (2014) Lumen Camden prize both selected by Andrew Motion. His chapbook, Running out of Space, was published in April 2014.


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