Of such stuff is the world about them.
—Keats, Letter, 24 April, 1818

From their perches on rock or branch, drenched robins blackbirds
wrens peer out perplexed at the pock-marked pools that, along with
the electric green of grass, are the only bright spots in a world given
over to spongy cloud, steady slow rain. I’m pressing, into a casket
made of wax paper and tape, three flowers of blood-coloured
fuchsia. Asun-scarred world away, in the stricken marketplace,
blood is drying on the shattered steering column of one exploded
Volkswagen. Among the terrorised scattershot of lemons and
canteloupes, figs, fragments of cheekbone and bits of brain tissue,
flutters one amber and emerald headscarf, dangles a sandal with its
foot attached: everything—including the charred rainbow wings of a
cageful of singing birds—in flagrante under a sun you’d hardly see
for smoke. Here, on the shine of the skylight, the rain plays its
steady, finger-drumming dirge. At intervals a single wheezy robin is
making the terrible world, against the odds, musical.