Farmer’s Piano Shop Plate Glass Window, Luton, 20th July 1919

I will tell you that after the jet of water lifted me
and before it threw me through the plate glass window,
I had time to notice a number of things, namely:
that the window looked liquid, which is true in its way,
as Will said glass was a liquid, and I did not believe him;
that the lads had already taken a step towards the window –
I would not be so foolish as to think this was concern for me,
more that they had already conjectured that the plate glass
would be smashed by my own somewhat thicker skull
and they would be able to drag the piano onto the street;
that the water from the firemen’s hose was running gold
with reflected fire as the Town Hall spat and splintered;
that the Union Flag on top of the Town Hall was in peril;
that I was not quite flying nor swimming, but, glass being liquid,
the water from a fireman’s hose could also be a fist;
that, running off the plate glass and back across the street
to the firemen, the water made a distorted golden ring,
not unlike the shape of Will’s ring which I had carried
in my pocket back from France to give to Eliza,
having excused myself and pulled it from his finger,
all bent out of shape as the ring was from the force of the blast;
that the lads were coughing and humming, clearing their throats
for the first verse of Keep the Home Fires Burning;
that, reflected in the plate glass window, one comrade
was shinnying up the flagpole after the flag,
and I looked at how he swam up, up through the shattering water.



Matt Kirkham has had three collections, the latest being Thirty-Seven Theorems of Incompleteness (Templar, 2019). He works as a teacher and lives in Belfast. You can find him reading on the John Hewitt Society page here.