Life After Wartime
Some things never change.
The garden bushes wag their beards
like arguing theologians while the orange fists
of passion fruit take cover in the leaves.
The sky aches with unmapped distances
and the sun hides nothing.
At dusk, it surrenders to the moon.
When there’s small-hours muttering in the street
remember it’s only someone deciding to go home or go on,
pushing the night for the last of the great good times
and into a shell-shocked morning after.
At least there’s coffee again.
It takes our minds off the radio,
the smooth-voiced reassurances,
the metaphors encrusted like barnacles
on every announcement, your almost
imperceptible jump at the sound
of a pamphlet shoved through the door.
Things never change.
People wear their silence like a caul.
To bring them luck against drowning.
They were parents. Or siblings. Or both.
They are the ones that nothing surprises,
the ones who no longer look up
when a jet comes roaring in above the city,
framed against the orange sky,
picking its way among the towers.
Tom Phillips 2003