Saturday, 10 October 2009

Twelfth of July

Another weekend in Edinburgh, and another set of doors opened: this time, the ‘Wasps’ artist studios dotted around the city. Tucked behind Easter Road, next to Hibs football stadium, from the window of one particular studio, there was a magnificent view. To the left, the shells of half-built flats at the end of my road; beyond, Arthur’s Seat and in the distance to the right, the Pentlands. The artist explained to me that one of the new buildings had blocked this excellent vista.

But, to her secret delight, someone had set fire to them (just as the housing slump hit in…reported as ‘suspicious’). I was thrilled to hear this story: it makes a lovely introduction to this poem. Art wins over the Economy! Dedicated to my friend Laura, who celebrated her birthday this week – a far more pleasing anniversary than July 12th is to me – this was my view of things on Orangeman’s Day in 2008.

Twelfth of July, 2008

for Laura, my purple friend

There are not many colours describe this
Dull green day, but Orange is not one of ’em.

In Art Class we were shown how green and
Orange clashed and caused the eye to flash.

Then, in General Science, other spectral laws
Demurred, denying the aesthetic senses.

Facing Easter Road, the handle bars of
Shopping trolleys and dim-glow of commercial

Signage skew the shapes of kissing cranes that
Frame the charred remains of a razed block of flats.

Hibernian’s Green Meccano’d symmetry
Rises from between the Colonies:

Two-up, two-down, a garden either side - front
Doors accessed on the right by tall stone steps.

One time, when the setting sun illumined
The perspex shoulders of Proud Twin Stands

A teenager, top deck of a No. 34 proclaimed:
“Tha’s Easter Road, ken – it’s beautifu’, eh?

Lacking light, it has neither colour to boast.
Like the ugly brown manila envelopes few

Poets could make rhyme or reason. We owe
So much. No such thing as a beautiful game.

One summer, I told a friend (who vowed to dress
Like Jenny Joseph long before her time came):

“We get purple sunsets in Scotland!” she was
Up here like a shot. That was November. Now in July

Orangemans’ Day is neither beautifu’ nor Okay.
Lacking any haze, it is merely dull and grey.

Like an out-of-season sea-side funfair park,
The Retail Outlet Centre displays just half a bargain.

Then, as credits crunch and daylight dims its
Ebb in the gloom, an Edinburgh gloam attacks:

A shaft of sunlight cataracts through clouds,
Thwacks its yellow-green optimism over one

Small window pane. The Bingo Hall spills out its
Lucky revellers who, in rapid clicks, ignite.

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