The Great Wall of China
by Michael Brett

It sits on rock, sunning itself as giant lizards do;
Its battlements and towers like reptile fins and fronds.

Look. From space you can see it
When the clouds and mists part
Like the wing cases of a beetle.

Zoom closer. It sits merely watching
Like kings and queens, motionless,
Needing neither votes nor headlines
To construct their names, just time:
The Good, the Just, the Merciful.

Unmanned, obsolete, beautiful,
The Wall shoplifts its way to greatness
Through coffee table books that overflow with Kodachrome.

Time erases lost battles, squashed lives,
The arguments and navies
All beating the seas like gongs.

We see only the angels' share,
The final distillation:

Nixon set in marble without Watergate
Facing his rampart press:
'It's a great wall; a truly great wall.'

Now when our futures line up like machine guns;
When we are mocked by pop songs and Keep Fit DVDs,
The Great Wall - like the Pyramids - seems a natural feature,
Something grown, not made:
Like Grandfather's old jackets
Folded round the centuries.

We, rather than the makers, seem like ghosts.

This is the holiday, perhaps:
The excitement at disconnecting from our time
And floating like sea weed;
Like cruise ship tennis balls
Missing in the sea.

Copyright © 2012 - Michael Brett
Published: 11/8/12   ·  Author's Page   ·  Next Poem