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Cherry Smyth

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)

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