Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Morning Walk


The sky is dark, grey and wet,
and the roads are the same,
as we set off into town;
Don, to the job he isn’t longing for,
Mary (she goes on her Honda 50)
to the job she is used to,
and me, to the house I didn’t stay at last night
(I slept the night on their sofa,
after clearing away biscuit crumbs,
and fragments of a glass thrown in that direction
which no-one had bothered to clean up).

We get onto the main road,
quite a few cars around already,
and Don just misses his bus.
“Bastard!
He saw me!
Christ, if I had a clod
I’d throw it through his window!
Bastard!”
So we walk into town,
up Constitution Hill’s winding
asphalt pathways
(“Beaten paths are for beaten men”
somebody once said.
There are lots of people on the streets now,
most of them look well thrashed).

The street lights blink out
and the sky is suddenly
much more important.
We’re in Queen Street now;
in a couple of hours this long, dark canyon
will yawn into a peculiar
artificial life of its own,
and the winter sun (not yet visible)
may even shed some light there.
Don catches his bus at last
and I carry on alone,
still thinking about all those beaten men.
It starts to drizzle
so I pull up the hood of my parka
and look for a break in the cloud
(there always is one –
if you’re willing to look hard enough,
and wait long enough).
Sure enough
by the time I reach
the Hopetoun Street overpass
the golden-orange sun has found its way
through a moth-hole
in the grey curtain
and is smiling palely
at whosoever cares to notice.
I have to stop for a minute
to lean on the railing
and look at it.
The traffic speeds on
over the humped bridge
just the same as it always does.

Now I’m in Ponsonby;
more people, more noise,
more movement than ever.
But it all seems a little easier now,
as the sun grows whiter,
and the sky becomes bluer by the minute,
and I slosh through ankle-deep puddles
on the pitted pavement,
watching the diminishing clouds
floating before me
on the wet mirror surface,
and listening to the ‘CROSS NOW’ buzzers
and the morning choruses of the birds.
And I think about beaten men,
and having breakfast,
and writing this down.


(1975)

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