I sometimes think that Hammersmith
is a strong brown god
hammer-wielder, burly, striding outside Time;
that the Broadway is his forge
and in it he forms Event and Motion and calls forth
Time from the places where it rests
skulking in the walls along
Goldhawk Road and Shepherds Bush.
We lived in the warren
for many years, grass beneath our feet,
watching sunset after sunset
as though this were our Eden - and we were, let us say,
naked quite often for we were Young
and this was our place.
Beneath us ran one of the lost rivers,
water tunnelling, without light,
reaching the Old Father river by the bridge.
The strong brown god cooling his hammer and his heels.
We would stand by the parapets and watch the sunset
or the rising moon or listen to the foxes howl and scream in the car park below.
Here there were passion flowers and passion itself,
curry plant and the smell of cooking,
and the slow heavy pulse of something, Time's wing, a slow
obsidian beat heard late at night when the last taxis had run
and the morning was not yet ready
to confront us with sirens and tube trains.
I lie awake, now, in my new, cold suburbia
remembering that pulse, that slow beat,
the heart of the strong brown god,
close in space and spread across time.
I think also that the riverside
is a lost place, somewhere of ghosts late at night,
masts describing slow patterns,
cats skulking the lost wharves of Furnivall Gardens. If you could sit
at the Dove, on its upper terrace, and look downriver to the Bridge
- because with a capital letter it is only the Bridge, just as there is only the Hammer and the Smith -
you could see the masts of those trading ships now dust,
their timbers gone into shadow. Then you look towards the west
and the sky is crimson and gold and purple and violet and the slow orb of the sun
descends with the lowering lights of aeroplanes
This place holds you forever.
Stillness, roaring, the slow breath of the River God.
And those who say the Hammer and the Smith are gone,
that they were only, ever, myth (if you like, a Hammer Myth);
no. The pulse is there, the breath, the slow tolling of the forge,
the fires that burn.