guidoGraceLo

 

To celebrate Bonfire, VivaLewes magazine invites the wonderful poets Grace Nichols and John Agard to contribute a poem each. I am flattered when they ask for an illustration to accompany them, and particularly taken with Grace’s poignant ‘Fifth of November’:

 

From day-break the build-up,

which I like best, begins to stitch the town –

threads of an ancient ritual.

 

The boarding-up of shop fronts

in case of shoving crowds;

in case Prometheus’s children

out to commemorate

his hotly stolen gift, get out of hand.

 

Already the scent of kerosene invades the air.

Street-food vans take up their stand

as ordinary folk become

transformed into Tudor and Victorian ladies,

blackened-faced Zulus, fine-feathered Indians,

the no-nonsense striped-jersied.

 

Later in the crowded streets

among the bangers, sparks and brass,

we crane our burning cheeks to see –

the procession of lit torches

soon-to-be burnt effigies

wheel barrows of flaming logs.

 

And now, the whole town

reverberates and shakes

to the crackling booms of fire works –

the cold air gasps at bright spells cast –

fountains of diamonds

showers of falling stars.

 

Am I the only one to glimpse

at an upstairs window

the pale face of a woman

drawing her curtains on it all –

as if she were the mother of a martyr

or one called Guy Fawkes?

 

© Grace Nichols 2014. Published with kind permission.

 

Advertisements