23 March 2011
It does not begin as a great fire,
but in the gentle kindling of
the King’s bakery. Much later on,
full blaze, it sends a measured,
secular radiancy. By and by,
300 houses go, and look remarkable
when seen from the tower. From Fish street
to London bridge the sky and river
are set alight like shreds
of burning paper. We seek the high
places and watch St. Magne’s church
fall to ash. It is possible to foresee
the loss of the Admiralty,
the music theatres; and, indeed,
the whole business of the Restoration.
Now, imagine the fire blown back
for a moment, revealing the city
underneath, a hive of Absaloms
roaming the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens
or drinking wine beside the Holborn Viaduct.
Picture them standing, windswept statues
in Piccadilly, or taking rooms in Camden
to bicker and write erotic sonnets.
Imagine the fire blown across centuries,
becoming desire to be visible
and move through the streets
like sparks let loose by history.
David Mohan Write Queer London 2011 Runner up