Fake Floor – Waves of Words

I had the privilege recently to be involved in a workshop and performance night called ‘Waves of Words’, which was about writing inspired by and responding to the Poppies:Wave sculpture that is currently on Plymouth Hoe.

My contribution to this project was ‘Fake Floor’. I wanted to write something that was based in reportage of what I saw and heard when I visited the project. I saw lots of people taking photos in front of the sculpture, including wedding photos. I heard a guide explain to everyone passing that the floor the poppies were installed on was fake.

And that seemed to me to be an interesting metaphor which captured something of what was going on. Something that looked simple was more complicated. People were weaving the artwork into their own timelines, as well as remembering.

Here’s the poem. It was first performed on 10th November at the Plymouth Athanaeum in a sequence with works by Laura Quigley, Gabi Marcellus-Temple, Thom Boulton, and Laura Reinbach.


She assures everybody,
‘It’s built on a fake floor.’

Silver heels and blusher
for the bride framed by
the pretty red poppies.
Flash! The camera fires.
Gather up the petticoats
and back to the car.

‘There’s 6000 poppies.
It’s a fake floor.’

A dad gets a close up of
a 3 year old pushing
his pedalless bike.
A boy bumps a knee
dismounting his scooter
for a family portrait.

‘It’s a fake floor.
There’s 6000 poppies’

and sixty thousand selfies;
keepsakes we carry home.
If we capture our best side
memorializing, overlay filters
of all we would want said
and done, if we promise,

if we really promise;
it couldn’t happen here.

No brides without husbands,
no fathers without sons,
no missing generation
from the family portraits,
no one to remember at the
going down of the sun,

just the slow Plymouth rain
drumming on a fake floor.

Simon Travers, November 2017