In the eyes of it

Ancient buildings, cobbled streets,
old faces, young fears, a river…
docks. A
thousand years of stone and wood.
Grey stone, grey sky, grey water, deep.
In the belly of it.

In the place of it, the centre, home, field of it,
in the field of it, in
the influence, the field, force, lines of it,
coloured by the shape of it
or drowning?

Black coats and boots, bells,
hats with earflaps, leather gloves,
layers, lights, layers,
alleys, mazes, mosaics, arcades,
ancient creaking churches, leaking taverns,
tombs, crosses, monuments, angels —
angels, angels, angels! —
ancient layers, towers, bridges,
windows, walkways, arches, angels —
angels, angels, angels! —
layers of lovely dust, bowls of ancient dirt,
vessels of experienced glass, places, nooks, artists, angels —
angels, angels, angels! —
denizens, inhabitants, short and covered and dark but
bright inside with the colours of tripping music,
and angels, angels, angels! —
singing, chanting, muttering, drinking
ritual drinks in dark-womb bars,
panelled in wood and smoke and leather.

And neon, there’d be some of that.
And heroin, hookers, places to be scared of
and suburbs both dismal and brave
and names to learn, maps to memorise,
pictures made real, streets to walk on,
a dense city with plenty of buses,
and people to walk among,

and places to go, places
can go, to become a denizen, go native
in the ancient streets and bars,
go native
native in the eyes of it.

Under the skin of it
walking in this
in the lights and the eyes of it
in the balm and syrup of it
or drowning?

(First published in The Weighing of the Heart (SunLine Press 2007)