John Glenday’s first collection, The Apple Ghost, won a Scottish Arts Council Book Award and his second, Undark, was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Grain (Picador, 2009) was also a PBS Recommendation and was shortlisted for both the Ted Hughes Award and the Griffin International Poetry Prize. His fourth collection, The Golden Mean, was published by Picador in September 2015 and won the Roehampton Poetry Prize. His Selected Poems is to be published by Picador in 2020/21.
As soon as we had died, we decided to walk home.
A white tatterflag marked where each journey began.
It was a slow business – so much water to be crossed,
so many dirt roads followed. We walked together, but alone.
You must understand - we can never be passengers any more.
Even the smallest children had to make their own way
to their graves, through acres and acres of sunflowers
somehow no longer pretty. A soldier cradled a cigarette, a teddy bear
and his gun. He didn't see us pass - our light was far too thin.
We skirted villages and cities, traced the meanderings of rivers.
But beyond it all, the voices of our loved ones called
so we flowed through borders like the wind through railings
and when impassable mountains marked the way,
soared above their peaks like flocks of cloud, like shoals of rain.
In time the fields and woods grew weary and the sea began –
you could tell we were home by the way our shadows leaned.
We gathered like craneflies in the windowlight of familiar rooms,
grieving for all the things we could never hold again.
Forgive us for coming back. We didn't travel all this way
to break your hearts. We came to ask if you might heal the world.
From The Golden Mean (Picador, 2015)