Taking the Long Way Home


Accepted by Mark Rothko’s private room,
having wrestled with his wine-dark murals.
An initiation rite, I hear low voices trapped
behind a sealed door, let a few loose.

Sunset, the South Bank. Buskers, drunks,
and holiday-makers by the glinting Thames,
which cuts very deep into the arm of London.
Between Waterloo Bridge and Parliament,

one should be able to fly. Newly released,
there’s Rothko, lying in a thin slate of blood.
Tourists have scattered coins, flank him
with camcorders. To applause, he stands,

greets me. We travel west, run into
the Kensington garden boys, play hide-
and-seek in the park. ‘I thought they were
fictional,’ says Rothko on the walk home.

Previously published in Magma.

Ian McLachlan‘s illustrated poetry pamphlet Confronting the Danger of Art, a collaboration with the artist Phil Cooper, was recently released by Sidekick Books. Ian’s “The Ballad of Tam Lin” is also in Reprint.

Object(s) to bring back to life: “Delphic Oracle; Les Cousins folk and blues club; canals.”