allison mcvety | reading room ...
Poetry Ribbon

in the reading room at the british library

you can hear the sea. And in this noiseless place,
a pin drop from a milliner’s grip some ninety years
away, or a wren caught in the eaves of a sudden thought.
There’s a finger, sweat greasing its trigger at dawn
as it eases back to join the volley of twelve Enfields
in the yard, dust falling from the walls as we all
fall in time. A rage of sound exalted to stillness
and it carries down the decades. Even after-hours
the librarians whisper here, afraid to weigh their loss
or private joy against the din. As though one
misplaced word could creak like a nightingale
on a parquet floor, jar like a note in a symphony
of counted bars at rest, could make you miss the atom
cracking with the thunder of a goldcrest’s heart.

Published in Miming Happiness