London:

Ancient bones are these old stones that lie

Under a sky as thick and brown as fur.

River’s a slow soup, lapping at pebbles and clay,

Rising and falling.

 

On the South tidal planes, plants grow wild in gardens

Shoot up from silt into murky air.

We had apricots, brambles, apples,

Hard pears, eggs from a woman down the street,

And wild strawberries; tiny, red and sweet.

It was farm-land once.

Road from the old city to Kent, and then the sea.

In winter, lights are white, diamond-bright,

Reflected in towers,

Frost hard as the streets and crowds.

Keep your head up though you huddle

In coats and scarves.

Walk fast and look no one in the eye.

 

In summer, tubes are hell and nothing moves

Not even air.

The stuff you breathe tastes old and rotten,

Second-hand.

Breathed in and out already a thousand-thousand times

Your clothes stick to you, wet on your skin.

 

Once the centre of the world

It’s ageing, tired, filled with pride,

And stubborn, muttering defiance.

Assured by history of its permanence,

Resting on laurels of the past.

 

But my first child was born here

One January night.

Between those brittle glass towers

Above those old stones.

So it’ll always be the centre of my heart.

The End

6 comments about this poem Feed