When I was a boy in Lushoto school, Tanganyika,
playing marbles with Robin and Henry, one marble bounced in the dust
and sprang off down a steep bank of scrubby grasses.
It was gone at once. The sun-hot air
carried no memory and no trace of its passing.
We stood and looked helplessly down the almost vertical slope.
Nothing but shrivelled grass and dust, and the occasional ant, the occasional fly…
And we would have given up, shrugging our shoulders,
had not Patrick the brother of Henry said: let’s set
another marble to find it, put
another marble where you last saw the lost one –
and Henry picked up a shiny blue marble
from our small supply
and held it between two grass tussocks at the crest of the slope
and let go. It vanished at once among the dusty grass-stems –
and nothing happened a moment –
and the moment grew longer –
and then, from the grass far down on the bank, there came
a quiet, unostentatious clink
I have heard for six decades.
by D.M. Black
D.M. Black is a Scottish poet, born in South Africa in 1941, brought up in Scotland from 1950. He now lives in London and Wiltshire. In 1991 he produced a Collected Poems (Polygon), having previously published four collections of poems and a number of pamphlets. He was included in the first series of Penguin Modern Poets (no. 11, 1968) and his poems have appeared in numerous anthologies. Since 1991 he has published a collection of translations of Goethe, Love as Landscape Painter, and individual poems in a variety of journals including Modern Poetry in Translation, Poetry London, Stand, Thumbscrew, and the TLS. You can read two more poems from this new collection on Arc’s site here, and read a review of his work from the Observer here.
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