Google Earth

Beneath my mouse-click, the earth is a patchwork
of rooftops. A thousand stratospheric eyes

have ironed flat the world and stitched it back
into a globe. We see the wide-eyed opening

of apertures wolfing up the world. On an
amber evening, a guttering screen throws me

into air to swoop from Margate pier to Mount
Sinai, past Mumbai, Paris, Puerto Rico, Batlagundu.

Everywhere the scars of habitation, telling of six
billion scuttling from pole to pole, yet so few people

pictured; hills divided into handkerchiefs,
stippled townscapes, colour charts of fields,

empty out their boast the world is ours. And in
a star’s-eye view of Stepney Green, a game

of football’s captured coming to an end, one game
among a thousand, thousand as that sky blinked

into a memory eleven thumbprints who greet
another scanty dozen between the yawning goals.

Low in the sky, the autumn sun draws out
the shadows of their windmilled celebrations

and the semaphore of cheated disbelief. Each
smudged head, haloed by the cheap team strip,

gathered up its triumph or its loss, unwatchful
of the quiet watching sky. Nothing but shadows

picks them out. Inside our sample square are rooftops,
beneath them we’re all making love, a plan

or a cake; writing a shopping list, a postcard, poem
or a wrong; falling out of bed or into love; watching

our manners or the seconds passing, or the match
draw to a close from a window in Stepney Green,

claiming back the earth from worlds of signs.
We make this moment matter, shuddered into

memory, force a fissure in the dull indifference
of a hundred pounds of camera, circling the earth.


6 thoughts on “Google Earth

  1. What a wonderful poem! It’s fascinating to think that we have access to these frozen moments as a ‘truth’ record of the world we live in. I wonder how often they renew the satellite imagery and a new moment will be captured?

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