22 SEPTEMBER 2007, Page 36

Small Room in a Hotel

In this cool cube of marble I am valid but invisible As an image caught in a camera But not yet reproduced.

My reappearance from confinement Is that of a lavatory Houdini Except that no one notices And the wonder is reduced to a trickle.

How many men have died at stool, Bent in that vain rictus of hope That gives to their flushed features The terrifying squint of a Samurai?

Between philosophical reflections And the final rebellion of blood Is the same fine line as between shadows And the ignorant earth which casts them.

Why are we so eager for shadows? Is reality so hard to bear?

That our root is in earth which Returns to earth, and is our sleep?

Each day, wherever we are, We should rehearse this cancelled debt, Like a sacrifice whose incense Ascends into the purity of thought.

John Fuller