Me? I get up early, see. I like
the hour or so before the cars arrive,
the city sleeping there over my shoulder,
the early morning sky that is all mine,
a few gulls spelling Mmmm out with their bodies.
I make the most of that because, by nine,
I bear the city’s weight here on my back,
all these commuting cars and belching vans.
I hold my nose and try to keep control
with traffic lights: they lean out of their windows
to swear, to drop their rubbish, spit on me,
to smoke a cigarette and flick a burning
bit on me. The days I like the best
are Sundays, when I just lie in all day.
The acupuncture of a gentle moped,
or this hand-holding couple, afternoon,
who linger at my apex, make my view
the background to their love. I’ve heard it said
our card is marked, our day is done, what with
advances in technology, hot air
balloon and tunnels, gravity, but this
is human, really, to look at the distance
from here to there and say, well, what’s the shortest
that could be? I do not like the nights:
the river’s tinnitus, and the low hum
a taxi engine makes is like a dream
of my own snoring. Worst are those who come
to visit at that hour. Here, tonight,
a young man walks alone towards my middle,
dumb-belling a Scotch bottle underarm:
he reaches midway, looks down at the river,
then clambers over, stands there on the ledge
and holds on tight. I feel his warm touch there.
Oh souls, believe me, I’d never let go
if I could choose. I know by heart, exactly
what it is to just have too much weight to bear.
From The Frogmore Papers. Reproduced with kind permission of The Frogmore Papers.