Wormwood - Poem by Robin Robertson

for Don Paterson

A flight of loose stairs off the street into a high succession
of empty rooms, prolapsed chairs and a memory of women
perfumed with hand-oil and Artemisia absinthium:
wormwood to me, and to the sappy Russian sailors, chernobyl.
The scooped-back ballroom gown
shows the tell-tale bra-strap, red and tired.
'Leave it,' my maths master used to say at a dropped pencil,
'it can't fall any further.' Well, I couldn't, and neither could she.

Poems by Robin Robertson

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