The Institute of Corrosion

Yes, it exists, the only club
we all can  join.  The osteopath
who piously shunned the Christmas pub
told me, that though we stretch and laugh,
our quietly mutinous joints decay,
our golden juices slow and dry
past thirty-five.  Add twenty, say
that lit hair rusts, bunched veins itch (why?).
Next, when you fall, the walls grow thin,
with splintered teeth to let dark in.

There is a sound, a whispering,
a purr not cats’, or neighbour’s car.
There is the heart that shuts to spring,
the child’s door closed, the spinning star.
There are the old who live too long,
their strength, the tree which splits the wall,
while your skin dries, unmown grass creeps,
the air chills and the bright bees fall.
The blood ticks slower. Worn joints ache
to sink in warmth, but not to wake.

This Institute, dear friends, exists
to stop corrosion, to research
each coating, powder, glaze or slip,
keep steel from oxide, posts from earth.
So we tap messages by night
to government, nudge liners round,
buy animals food, plan cakes’ whorled white,
see snow lap moon’s milk without sound,
while rose trees wave, as daylight dips,
unblemished, smooth and scarlet hips.

Alison Brackenbury

If you have any comments on this poem, Alison Brackenbury  would be pleased to hear from you.