Friday, 2 March 2012

The Centre, Friday

This is not a place to be in at a loss:
you need wits and cash about you.
And I am a different person on these streets,
adjusting pace and expression to how
it might be possible not to stand at odds.
Common ground amongst predictable gridlock
is reduced to a concrete plaza with fountains,
Bible bashers, benches, rubbish bins:
whatever each complains of when we’ll be home.

There’s a long way to go before that.
The waterfront bellows with stag parties;
tourists affront lovers sequestered at wharf’s edge.
Negotiating the overspill from franchised bars,
there seems to be some hope for separate peace.
At the outset of Friday night, the cordon’s drawn up:
helicopter flashlights splash along the harbour.

It’s not the whole story. On the corner
by the swing bridge’s worn-through asphalt tiles,
the leaf-clogged puddles on harbourside cobbles,
you were almost in danger of kicking away
a used condom’s rubbery squiggle:
sign at least that, in this intoxicating air,
someone was tempted to believe
love was somewhere near.

Tom Phillips

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