Friday, 10 April 2015

Everything looks good tonight

Everything looks good tonight
because children emerged from the dark,
laughing and singing in Queen Square,
because, beyond them, two terriers
snuffled at a wooden post,
because a conversation had only just ended,
because by the zebra crossing
someone automatically took
someone else’s hand,
because the city lights
opened out around the docks
and, beneath the Balmoral, the boat’s reflection
hung, almost perfect, upside down,
because on the last few hundred yards home
I heard people speaking Russian, Spanish, Italian,
because I had been talking with friends
from somewhere I’d been last summer,
because I was wearing the shoes I’d worn
in that place and for a moment
I could feel again the contours
of the pavements as if they’d been
imprinted on cheap plastic and canvas.

And so, yes, crossing the footbridge
everything looks good. By the old gaol gate,
someone pissed against a stone bulwark.
A cyclist went past. And I remembered
deliberately making another footbridge
pulse and shake by walking in step –
and Mike plunging into the river
from a pub terrace in Shrewsbury,
and reading ‘They flee from me ...’
for a practical criticism assignment
months after driving up the east coast
of Australia in bush-fire season
and being in love with people
I’d never see again, because
that was how it was back then,
because even flying home
was an opportunity and we sat
outside a house in Buckinghamshire,
with me jet-lagged and still smelling
of the chemicals they’d sprayed us with
in Sydney, and we were talking
at the night as it came down
and I would sleep on the sofa
when the cat brought in a dead pigeon.

Cars pass. The passengers look out.
I’m in amongst the bins and recycling boxes.
Across the valley, the city lights articulate
a kind of semaphore and I am nearly home.

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