Tiananmen by James Fenton

Picture from here
Tiananmen
–James Fenton
Tianamen
Is broad and clean
And you can’t tell
Where the dead have been
And you can’t tell
What happened then
And you can’t speak
Of Tianamen.
You must not speak.
You must not think.
You must not dip
Your brush in ink.
You must not say
What happened then,
What happened there.
What happened there
In Tiananmen.
The cruel men
Are old and deaf
Ready to kill
But short of breath
And they will die
Like other men
And they’ll lie in state
In Tianamen.
They lie in state.
They lie in style.
Another lie’s
Thrown on the pile,
Thrown on the pile
By the cruel men
To cleanse the blood
From Tianamen.
Truth is a secret.
Keep it dark.
Keep it dark.
In our heart of hearts.
Keep it dark
Till you know when
Truth may return
To Tiananmen.
Tiananmen
Is broad and clean
And you can’t tell
Where the dead have been
And you can’t tell
When they’ll come again.
They’ll come again
To Tiananmen.
Hong Kong, 15 June 1989, collected in James Fenton’s Out of Danger, winner of the Whitbread Poetry Prize (1994).
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