Tartu

Tartu is a city in Esto­nia; I was there a few weeks ago. I have an odd sort of rest­less­ness; when I’m at home, I want to travel, and it’s smells that set me off – air-conditioning reminds me of air­ports, palm tree oil on Pap­uans in the bus of the Pacific, the city after rain of Lon­don after­noons. When I’m over­seas, it doesn’t take long for me to long for home, for the smells and tex­tures of our small house, the noise of my girlfriend’s, the heady hope of uni in the morn­ings. And when I come back, it’ll take me only a month to start pick­ing up those other smells again, call­ing me away.


Tartu

In the park
Where the birds
Crashed
in black waves against
the cliffs of
long-abandoned houses
(plaster skins peel­ing in
wide shreds
),
In the park
sat a girl
who could no longer read
the stone words
of her stone book
with her soft stone eyes,
And the autumn-yellow excav­at­ors
picked the old church apart
in slow
nervous iron clutches.

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