Owen Sheers
Stitch in Time
And so he left his wife, just 15 years old, in Gujarat
and travelled back

across three seas
to Fiji and the Garden Island of Taveuni,

where he bent once more
to the cloth, spilling from the bench onto the floor

and moved about the dummy's baste
like a musician round his double bass.

Where, by the hurricane lamp's sepia,
he was the cutter, coatmaker and finisher,

checking again and again his stab and pad stitch
the depth of the gorge, the sleeve's angle and pitch -

a bespoke suit for the local chief,
who was offering (he thinks of his wife, his wife)

an acre of ground - his own piece of land
for this man of cloth, made by his hand.

And when they told him where it lay - about the 180 degrees,
the invisible meridian that came over the hill through the coconut trees,
the imaginary chalk mark where here, tomorrow starts,
and here, today is ending, he felt it in his heart.

The pin-stripe of longitude, the balance, the symmetry,
bisecting time and space, he understood it immediately.

And so ten years later when he returned for his wife
he brought her back to show her the life

he'd built he'd built around that line: the corrugated Meridian store,
the Meridian cinema, its screen lifting from the floor

to reveal a boxing ring every Saturday night.
Then later, the Meridian Garage, with his taxis' headlights

shaking into the dark, sweeping across the bay.
Even the sign was his, with its arrows pointing each way

where tourists stood to have their photo taken, a foot each side,
where the future started and the present died.

And that's why , four daughters and a son later, when
his joints were as stiff as his oldest scissors, he went to London

and on his first morning there,
walked alone through the morning air
to Greenwich, to see at last where it all started.
To stand under a blue sky where the swallows darted:

an explorer discovering the source, the still point after the strife,
the first stitch in the pattern to which he cut his life.