for Lloyd Haft
I was in a very dark place then,
the poet said, as he handed
me the volume and I can tell
from the lines that he thought,
this is it, how to get used to it.
London is getting ready for leaf,
for night, like us moving
in the lit up bus for warmth
beneath a dented moon.
Cranes guard Waterloo Bridge
where a woman swings a banana skin
by the stalk, seen through the smudge
of grease from a rested head. The man
beside me eyes my red leather shoes
and white ankles – no tights.
I am not coming home from work,
I am coming home from reading.
You can hum and think at the same time.
You can be in the city’s belly
and sit in deep silence.
I pass out of the bus behind
my neighbour and could call to him
but the city has not healed me enough.
He walks ahead in a grey suit,
fingers already playing the piano,
as if counting up his secret joys.
I’m singing, ‘Yellow River,
Yellow River, you’re in my mind,
you’re the place I love’,
and am half-way through the chorus
before I realise it.
From Magma 35 (Summer 2006)