‘The Missing’

As if their bodies became lighter,

ten of those seated

in front pews began to float,

and then to lie down as if on

a bed. Then pass down the aisle,

as if on a conveyor belt of pure air,

slow as a funeral cortege,

past the congregants, some sinking

to their knees in prayer.

One woman, rocking back and forth,

muttered, What about me Lord,

why not me?


The Risen stream slowly, so slowly

out the gothic doors

and up to the sky, finches darting

deftly between them.


Ten streets away,

a husband tries to hold onto the feet

of his floating wife. At times her force

lifts him slightly off the ground,

his grip slipping. He falls

to his knees with just her high-

heeled shoe in his hand.

He shields and squints his eyes

as she is backlit by the sun.


A hundred people start floating

from the windows of a tower block;

from far enough away they could be

black smoke from spreading flames.


A father with his child on top his shoulders;

men in sandcoloured galiibeas; a woman

with an Elvis quiff and vintage glasses,

a deep indigo hijab flapping in the wind;

an artist in a wax-cloth headwrap:

all airborne, these superheroes,

this airborne pageantry of faith,

this flock of believers.


Amongst the cirrus clouds, floating like hair,

they begin to look like a separate city.

Someone looking on could mistake them

for new arrivants to earth.

They are the city of the missing.

We, now, the city of the stayed.

from A Portable Paradise (Peepal Tree Press, 2019), © Roger Robinson 2019, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

The free tracks you can enjoy in the Poetry Archive are a selection of a poet’s work. Our catalogue store includes many more recordings which you can download to your device.

Roger Robinson is a fervent, generous poet. His most recent collection, A Portable Paradise, won both the 2019 T. S. Eliot Prize and ...

Featured in the archive