In the space of a year Ula has learned to sit,
to stand, to walk, to totter forward in a run.
She has seen one full round of the seasons.
She wraps her family round her little finger.
Now just before dusk we stroll hand in hand
to witness the evening ritual of geese return.
Gliding along the Thames in formation, they
skim overhead, flapping slow time in synch.
She studies their procedure, dropping my hand
to edge forward, neck outstretched, arms aero-
dynamically angled. She flaps and flaps along
the bank, following their flight, ready for that
sudden lift. Again, again, till the last goose has
flown. Dragging her heels home, disconcerted,
she braces her body against the rising breeze,
bewildered that she too can’t take off to sky
but game to try again tomorrow, convinced
the birds’ secret will soon belong to her.
Penn Kemp, RIVER REVERY
Notes for Believe…
Believe… was written and performed by Penn Kemp for the Mayor’s 2012 State of the City Address. The poem is dedicated to Ula, Penn’s granddaughter.