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Poetry, Geology and Environmental Science Collaboration Commissioned Poem

The Cure

We had come to the old house for a cure – or a reason, a road map, or a railroad, inked across a page, to take us to recovery. Feelings were running high – we sat beside locked doors with children on our knees. The rooms inside were where the old men sat. They were weighing us, and watching us. But who, we wondered, could possibly save us? Outside,

in the rose garden, decisions were being made. The light reminded me of lost things – keys and spectacles, and names and dates,

words left on the tip of the tongue. There was a smell we recognised – not of warmed earth, the wet grass each morning, but of oil, of dirty summer afternoons in traffic jams, of oil slicked on wave-edged beaches, in the mouths and wings of fish and birds,

oil in the old tank where the neighbour’s cat lay pristine among blistered paint, the rust, the aching sun. In the waiting room the children now grew restless, mothers wiping noses, scrolling on their phones. There were perspex layers, locks


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