Barnabas had one eye.
Upward-pointing, like a spoilt ballot in a
Sea of cloned paper brothers.
His lunchbox was tin and patterned with polka dots
Worn away to crescent moons. Once he met Paddington at
Namesake station, and we took pictures.
I left my ticket on an underground bench but
Barnabas remembered his lunchbox.
It is introspective, speculative, creviced, curved, cut, cow, cat-
The little tin box of a one-eyed bear who
Could explain himself better than I.
Eye fallen from its socket long ago, not needed, not
Missed at all. Like a button on a train-track,
I took him for ice cream and then,
After, cut the stain from his fur. One-eyed and
Malting Barnabas. Sat him in a cupboard to keep him
Safe- And because, and because, outside there were paper
Brothers for me. And the brothers sang and spoke in tongues
I could understand. But Barnabas was quiet, half-sensed and
Half-incensed, from all I could read in his eye.
A shipwreck off the Andes, round like the
Gaping head of a volcano. And it reminded me of
A black pupil in a brown eye, one I’d
Seen before. Faded image, a memory I’d
Left on a railway once, between tracks like