the golden ratio

Robert Minhinnick | The Golden Ratio

Wales Arts Review asked some of Wales’s top writers to pen some thoughts on the future. This new series brings together a wide variety of perspectives and ideas in a vibrant array of styles and forms, expressing hopes for a new way of doing things when the Covid-19 coronavirus is finally overcome. Political, personal, sociological, ecological, cultural – this is an evolving tableau of ideas. Here we publish Robert Minhinnick‘s poem, The Golden Ratio, dedicated to the fire of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and imbued with themes of renewal and revolution.

The Golden Ratio
(A Parisian libretto, on July 14, 2019)

For Geoffrey Gilbert, of Rue des Trois Bornes,
on a two hundred and thirtieth anniversary

*

Outside
they are storming the Bastille
but now the gendarmerie
have stun grenades
and this morning the air stings
with tear gas.

On the one hundred stairs
we choose to clutch
the polished bannisters.

Five floors above
and five below,
we  will learn to love
your golden ratio.

Yes, five floors above
mean five below,
we must learn to love
our golden ratio.

 

In the metalworkers’ district,
at the maison des metallos,
the morning sun
becoming molten…

but somehow we arrive at our rooms
and above us looms
Orion’s blister pack
of stars.

Perhaps I can
already feel
tomorrow’s headache…
coming on…

In the metalworkers’ district,
L’ Union fraternelle des metallurgistes
the morning sun
already molten…

while on the metro,
the maghrebin women
are waving
their bunches of mint…

Now, on our rooftop,
five bowls of tea.
And tomorrow will also be
the hottest day in Parisian history.

Fifth floor.
Seven swifts
crying for the empty sky.
Tea but no bread.

Five floors above
and five below,
we learn to love…
our golden ratio.

Outside, they are storming the Bastille
but now the gendarmerie
have stun grenades
and in the morning
the air stings
with tear gas.

Out of a marble hall
a bannister of polished oak.
Then one hundred stairs
and a sky becoming candlewax.

Somewhere
our sulphuric sun is rising
over chimney pots
like pantomime crowns.

 

On the metro the maghrebin women
are clutching their bunches of mint…
but in the Wi Fi forest
so many branches bear little fruit.

Coffee with bread.
Swifts crying for the empty sky
like children in l’ecole
elementaire trois bornes…

Chimney pots
are pantomime crowns,
whilst our shadows melting into the walls
are a slow Hiroshima…

In the Wi Fi forest
so many branches
yet so little fruit…

Our chimney pots
are pantomime crowns
while in the metalworkers’ district –
le maison des metallos –
the afternoon sun
already molten…

We break our fast
with the punnet of raspberries
that Somali boy
gives us in the market.

Shy kid, but he’s
pushing this world
that much
farther on…

Now a hot rain
from the Maghreb,
its drops the colour
of those old centimes
upon this page.

Somewhere
our sulphuric sun
is rising
For one hundred stairs
we clutch the polished bannisters
while outside
they are storming the Bastille,

but now the gendarmerie
have stun grenades,
and this morning the air stings
with tear gas.

Five floors above
and five below,
we learn to love
your golden ratio…

 

Robert Minhinnick is a poet, essayist, novelist and translator. He has won two Forward Prizes for Best Individual Poem and has received the Wales Book of the Year award a record three times (in 1993, 2006 and 2018).