STAND




Bank of England

Sometimes, on a weekend, you can see
the small door open that's quite high up
within the larger door, and the Governor's men
or the Chancellor's men extending their legs,
up and over, as they emerge,
blinking, into Threadneedle Street.

The inside looks much more like a palace
than what you're used to in a Bank.
A tour will take you down to see the gold.
In the vaults, pallet upon pallet,
and so much of it, still, they have to be careful
how they spread its weight
this being a building set on London Clay.

The man showing us round tells us that each 400 oz bar
has its own provenance; that they can trace it back
to the mine it came from; that one bar sank
with a ship once and centuries later they brought it up,
dented and covered in barnacles. They cleaned it
and weighed it and found that it weighed
exactly the same as when the ship went down.

Some atoms had moved their position
but not a single one had joined with any other element;
not a single one was lost.

And for a moment his City face is allowed to soften.
This is his passion he's showing us.

Sally Crawford, 2000