richard pierce

richard pierce

25 February 2014


When you wake
You will be a teenager,
Somewhere between a child
And an adult.
For you, and for me.

A strange thing, growing up.
We think we know who we are,
And forget it just as quickly.
Certainty collapses
From one second to another.
Uncertainty fades with
The blink of an eye,
Usually someone else’s.

It took two hours and ten minutes
For you to be born,
In the middle of a snow storm,
In the middle of the night,
When death stood by my side
Until you chased him away,
A dozen and one years ago,
The last of my children,
The final marker of my age.

All these precious moments you make.


For Alex, on her 13th birthday.

24 February 2014


Back here, in real life, half-term over, and in the last week of February. One sixth of this year gone already, and Christmas still not fully digested, nor finances recovered. And the weather more like summer than what it's supposed to be like - February, the coldest month of the year.

Things change. Time changes. Times change.

And yet I'm feeling strangely in stasis.

I am on alert to take one of the girls to her gymnastics class on what are always frenetic Monday afternoons, as I rush from one delivery of service or child to the next and then off to one of my highlights of the week, my ballroom dancing class where I can at last spend 45 minutes with my arms round my wife. I love the dancing, but not the chaos of these days.

On Friday I gave up on my latest novel, at least in the form it is at the moment, 23,000 words in. It just wasn't working, and I need to try a different tack. That's stasis, too. It doesn't feel as cathartic as it should.

Life is fragmented, like this piece. Time is split into such small segments that each one becomes more difficult to control, that prolonged concentration and advancement (of anything) is almost impossible. And the more fractions of time there are, the quicker it appears to pass.

Of course, something could be happening with the system of time we're all in, without anyone, least of all scientists, noticing. Time could be running more quickly, just like the sand in a tea-timer seems to flow more quickly when it comes to the end. Perhaps that's what's happening - that we're at the end of time, at the end of this time, and what's remaining is falling down through the plugholes of the universe faster and faster, proportionally intact, and we're too out of tune with this universe to be able to notice or measure.

Or I could be making it up, or, even better, just imagining it all.

And other moments move slowly, insufferably slowly and soporifically, and I don't know where to put my hands, my feet, my emotions, myself.

Ah, the human condition. A wonderful thing. Is it? It is. We are.

The days are longer, but no frisson of elation.

Back to Prufrock, I think, to lift my spirits and see something greater than the whole.

14 February 2014

A Gift

Not so much thought
as thoughtlessness. Emptying
my mind to be you, to see
like you, to feel like you,
to find something you might love.

I leave the station, and
follow the scent to Spitalfields
where I have shopped as you before.
The aisles of the market are short,
squat, only two or three stalls,
and then I have to turn again.

Jewellery. No. Too many conflicting
irritating metals, the wrong chemistry
today for your skin. Clothes. Where
would you wear them? I can’t take
you anywhere without a car and
cash, and nights too late.

Hats? I’d love to see you
wear one, a people’s hat, skew whiff
and crushed and messy,
but you wouldn’t. Move on.
Vinyl records made into clocks;
they break my heart, so cruel.

More jewellery, t-shirts that would
not fit your moods, carved
woods you’d hide
under our dust. And it’s nearly the end,
light from the next street of reality,
so I turn back.

I saw these bags in the second aisle,
when I first started,
sumptuous colours and flesh,
the perfume of the real. I am
you, in jeans, in a hurry, looking
for something that lasts.

Here it is.

For Marianne, on Valentine's Day 2014

7 February 2014

The Ice

I thought I could just shrug it off,
from one day to the next,
a story, a place, another quest done,
tick the box, move on.

It's impossible.

I was there, years ago,
steeped in the legend and myth
of endeavour, exploration and dignity,
companionship, friendship, faith.

There are never enough words.

The white, the shades of white,
the inside of a tent, recreated each night now
under the duvet, eyes closed,
a profusion of crosses for the lost.

Men died walking this path,
this incomplete journey,
a century from here.
They watched you yesterday.

And the continent, still hungry,
devours men and women still,
in body and mind.

We are all changed
by The Ice.