Outside St Paul’s Station, by Sally Barnes

(I) A wall of glass, drawn with black verticals and venetian blinds into a pellucid sheet of graph paper, hangs in a pearly sky. In its curve is a reflection of St. Paul’s dome, merely a fragment, an echo of Wren’s dream, itself an echo of St.Peter’s, Rome, and that was borrowed from the Pantheon, via Brunelleschi.

As there are ravens at the Tower, there are cranes in the City, raising walls of glass and steel where once there were walls of red brick or creamy stone.  Concrete will squeeze and shelter the old pubs, the medieval livery halls, and curves of glass will shiver with reflections.

(II) Beneath an eager chin, her white scarf is a whipped cream ruff.  She smooths escaped strands behind her ears, shifts her weight from one foot to the other.  She runs her tongue over her teeth, as if chasing the crumbs of a hurried meal, or preparing for a kiss.  She swings her glance from the mouth of the Underground to the long arms of Cheapside, the eastbound red buses, the westbound black cabs.  The breeze lifts the skater’s skirt of her raincoat; the fringed edge of her scarf spills froth amongst the buttons.  Her legs stalk, black, restless.  As she turns one way and then another, mouse hair, cat-like, lashes its tail.  Her neat features harden, her mouth becomes a tight line.  She pulls back her sleeve, inspects her wrist, and then inspects the pavement.  Shoulders hunched, she crosses the road, is swallowed by the grey canyon to the north.

(III) The boys stand outside St. Paul’s station.  They are the uniformed recruiting serjeants, they are the swaggering skinheads. They are the past and future men.

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About claire collison

Writer, photographer, creative facilitator, and breast cancer survivor, I am currently Artist in Residence at the Women's Art Library (WAL) My first novel was a finalist in the Dundee Book Prize, and my short stories and poetry have appeared in print and online. In 2015 I was awarded second place in the inaugural Resurgence Prize, the world's first eco poetry competition, judged by Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. This blog began as a space for words generated on my walking/writing workshops at the Mary Ward centre in Bloomsbury - Writing the City (WTC). WTC has since grown to include many other venues, including the Museum of Broken Relationships, the Barbican, the River Rom, Southwark Woods, Aylesbury Estate, and most recently, as part of Walking Women festival, An Intimate Tour of Breasts. I have worked with Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, as the recipient of the first Max Reinhardt Literacy Award, designing teaching resources; and for The Photographers' Gallery, helping school children develop visual literacy as part of 'Seeing More Things'. If you would like me to design a workshop or walk for you, please be in touch!
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