Richard Warren

"Clearly I tap to you clearly along the plumbing of the world" (W S Graham)


Slow and in miniature, our shadows squeezed, we move
in glare across the lawns, past the suspicious statues,
towards the gravelled entrance to the inviolable hall.
Here, it is said, was once a room for each day of the year,
but now you may purchase the privilege to view a week’s quota,

likewise buying into a reverent embarrassment, re-learned
surprisingly quickly; like an estate worker enlisting
for Gallipoli, I remove my hat. We shuffle along
the rope partitions, gawping at the Spanish tapestries,
thoughtful not to move too sharply, for fear of treason.

Refreshed in white and cream, the wedding cake interiors
stand beyond taste or judgement. The ballroom is barbarous with enemy
armours, symmetrically trophied. Since Albert passed,
not one object moves within its space. Each
has its accustomed measure, and nothing is to be altered.

Gargantuan portraits re-figure across the generations
features, gestures, uniforms. Only the ceiling-high mirror
darkens with every year. Routinely self-regarding,
on stair and landing, move with ease the invisible occupants
of this undying dynasty, this house of vampyres.

Copyright Richard Warren 2011

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