Poetry Map of Scotland, poem no. 264: Glasgow

Rebuilding No. 18 Park Terrace
A building is a ship, sailing
not through space but time
we’ll patch this old girl up
re-roofing, floating beams across
the chasms, re-plastering cornices
the sweet smell of fresh paint
our hands haunted by echoes
of those first men in aprons
waistcoats and bunnets
who under barking orders
of gentlemen architect and mason
built a new Athens in the sky
singing at the centre of empire
the view from this hill then
still of green surrounding fields
on days when the smog cleared.
Well-to-do merchants
shipping magnates stinking rich
then seventies students ten to a room
before the fire. Each only passengers
as we are. But the expressions on
the carved lion’s faces steal our breath
in the wintery air on the scaffold
(waiting two centuries for their close-up)
their author a humble craftsman
casually, anonymously: leaving beauty
for us to find.
Douglas Thompson


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