About the poet
Brian Johnstone is a Scottish poet, born in Edinburgh in 1950. He lives in Fife with his wife,...
Early Photographs of Historic Towns
from the work of St. Andrews photographer Thomas Rodger
What we recognise are buildings
scarcely changed, the houses that survived
in streets whose strangeness we ascribe
to history, their emptiness mistaken
for evidence of life lived at a difference pace
in pasts we think we understand
fixed in black and white. Time, it’s true,
has played its part, wiped people wholesale
from our view; left only absence
or a blur that might have been
a dog, a cat – and here and there the sense
of something verging on the human:
a smudge, some captured light, the ghosts
of bodies tricked out of existence,
gone about their business in a mist of haste.
from The Book of Belongings (Arc Publications 2009), © Brian Johnstone 2009, used by permission of the author and the publisher
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