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More poems by A.S.J. TessimondA.S.J. Tessimond | Print this page.Print | View and Write CommentsComments | Books by A.S.J. TessimondBooks by A.S.J. Tessimond

The British

A.S.J. Tessimond

We are a people living in shells and moving 
Crablike; reticent, awkward, deeply suspicious; 
Watching the world from a corner of half-closed eyelids, 
Afraid lest someone show that he hates or loves us, 
Afraid lest someone weep in the railway train. 

We are coiled and clenched like a foetus clad in armour. 
We hold our hearts for fear they fly like eagles. 
We grasp our tongues for fear they cry like trumpets. 
We listen to our own footsteps. We look both ways 
Before we cross the silent empty road. 

We are a people easily made uneasy, 
Especially wary of praise, of passion, of scarlet 
Cloaks, of gesturing hands, of the smiling stranger 
In the alien hat who talks to all or the other 
In the unfamiliar coat who talks to none. 

We are afraid of too-cold thought or too-hot 
Blood, of the opening of long-shut shafts or cupboards, 
Of light in caves, of X-rays, probes, unclothing 
Of emotion, intolerable revelation 
Of lust in the light, of love in the palm of the hand. 

We are afraid of, one day on a sunny morning, 
Meeting ourselves or another without the usual 
Outer sheath, the comfortable conversation, 
And saying all, all, all we did not mean to, 
All, all, all we did not know we meant. 


Submitted by Stephen Fryer

Added: 19 Aug 2002 | Last Read: 23 Oct 2018 10:39 AM | Viewed: 4069 times

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URL: http://plagiarist.com/poetry/6665/ | Viewed on 23 October 2018.
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