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This poem is taken from PN Review 54, Volume 13 Number 4, March - April 1987.

The Delegates go to the Great Wall Philip Holmes

1

Manufactured in Japan, the minibus
is packed with us 'distinguished visitors',
speaking of equations, spectra, spaces,
while villages bounce past in dust or tumble
up the chaotic, shaven hills, which suddenly
ten-roofed pagodas magical as fairy tales
punctuate with startling green tiles.

Bicycles and tottering, pedalled loads
of sand, cement, steel reinforcing rods,
chickens, melons, TV sets, caged crickets - pulled
and pushed by feet, hands and the much-repaired
vehicles of those nations once most favoured -
slow travel to a dusty crawl between
the perfect fields as small as living rooms,

which rooms here are smaller yet.
The hills get knobblier and fields die out.
...


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