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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

In Memory of the N11

Site of the next smash
victim’s roadside shrine,
who and wherever: waiting,

sped past. The Sugarloaf’s
shark-fin tip overhead,
sniffing blood.

Tarmac in my veins
but not once underfoot,
how you burn for me,

shimmer and burn.
The inside lane peels off
for the garden centre

and the driver turns
the radio up for the sport.
The road has eaten

a small village
under the sign of
its service station’s

knife and fork;
we drive through
someone’s front room.

A child in a hillside field
flies a kite, and a cat
one lane from the road

is asleep in the sun.
Stream through my eyes,
kite girl, their shade

to your light. On still
evenings the fox’s cry
at the end of your lane

must carry all the way
to the flyover. It wipes
its nostrils clean of my scent.

The minute underground throb
of the bus’s passing shakes
my grandparents’ bones.

Rush hour sometimes
a body can feel it’s never
going to move.

Towns are concessions,
begrudged. Dip in the road
where a bloodline

rose, sank, settled,
‘D’ye know what I’m goin’
to tell ye,’ a generation’s

worth of opening
conversational gambit
at the Village Inn,

Uncle Joe. Roads
without traffic
after the upgrade

don’t go untravelled,
merely become
their own destination.

Figure looming
smaller and smaller
on the hospital drive

staring me full
in the back as I scarcely
glance up from my paper:

not until you are out
of sight do I think
to look, then left

and another pocket
handkerchief graveyard,
and that was a great day

for the village, the green
and red football flags
by the Marian grotto

will say, meaning
that not-to-be-forgotten
triumph, meaning that never-

disgrace. The misspelled
takeaway sign awaits

the last drunks
and the king of the pipers
lies under a snowstorm

of flecked marble chips
but snow is not general.
There is no snow,

is only an evening
coming down, with
from the far docks

the sound of a foghorn
while the Sugarloaf slips
behind its veil to digest

the day’s catch. You sit
in a blunted pencil of light
and a current of recycled air,

but don’t imagine
there’s no arriving, no
retiring you into

the slipstream with scarcely
a backward glance
from the driver. Your seat

is only so comfortable
and only the road
has no home to go to,

the one true static thing.
A last boy
leaves the misting-up

windscreen empty
before you
stepping off

at the edge of town
and its moving blackout
is pleasure deferred

enough. On your way
with you! It is two hours
ago all over again

but do not run
for the last bus:
you are on it and gone,

waving not me
but the bus stop
goodnight and already

hearing the foghorns
to greet you.


Photo found here.

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