This City, My Old Friend

Old friend, old friend – changed and unfamiliar
you welcome me back with smiles and guesswork,
fathoming my journey from what I don’t say.
You don’t know where I’ve been and for my part,
I say little enough about the two years of walking
down long, lonely country lanes, lined with hedges
whose thorns scratched at my bare arms and legs.

Now the city has shrunk into a town, a few lights
failing to illuminate the greyish dusk of early Spring.
Its people think about commuting, about farming,
about taking to the road the way that I did.
But, like me, they always end up coming back here.
And you’ve gone nowhere, as patient as ever,
still waiting for me to bring back my borrowed shoes.

I will leave my boots at the door, old friend,
and come and talk awhile with you, pretending
that it has been a month and not two years that I
spent wandering alone and without even a map.
You offer me tea and in return all I give is stories
and a few photographs of the thorns and the flowers
that adorn the hedges of the narrow roads I walked.

It’s enough: you can guess the rest from those.

(4th April, 2015)

The End

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