This morning I watched you watch your reflection
in the canal and the one with long hair join you.
It was dry but cool and the seats of your trousers
got damp, but you didn’t care – just stared at the view.
All morning you sat as the dog-walkers passed by
with the dogs’ noses barely sniffing for your scent.
You held each other and sometimes tossed stones
causing the surface to ripple its dissent.
By noon the sun had burned the clouds and the sky
was the colour of your eyes, reflecting in the water.
I saw what it was in her’s that made her sorry
she was here, a ghost of her parents’ daughter.
I listened to you talk of birds and rain, nothing
in particular, talk like dandelions caught in the hand;
words afloat invisible to your eyes, wrapping around
clutched fingers, squeezing, trying to understand.
I have seen you both before around here and there
and sometimes you’ve been in groups or alone,
in town, resting on shop windows or
waiting to be asked what it is you have stole.
Sometimes to stay dry, in the Rowland Hill centre,
you kiss to pass the time away as others stare
but pretend they do not see you, pretend
it’s this illusion meant to make them care.
You roll now onto stomachs with your heads turned
inwards. Parts of me shuffle by unheard, unseen,
wearing coats, grey or black; there two footsteps
and the round indentation from a cane in-between.
All day you lie and no-one says a word,
the phone in the canal and you two strangers,
who can speak without speaking and know how to look
behind the other’s shoulders for oncoming dangers.
I hear your names spoken in whispers in secret,
with all the town looking for some time to kill;
in cars and in doorways, street corners and shops,
I hear the blue bells ringing down Bewdley Hill.
So you stand to run away, and in standing see
you can see a little further and rise a little taller;
ankles and wrists exposed where cloth can’t reach,
you feel the air around them as I watch you get smaller.
Your feet pound my roads and pavement
running through the night and underpasses,
in convex mirrors you can see around the corners
roadblocks of drugged carcasses.
Hands held and held high like children,
you swing from my arms past stop signs,
past eyes asking where can you be going
and can we come with you this time.
On the outskirts of town the shadows start
to wring your feet dry of pace,
they stumble in my underarms where things
start to grow and the blue lights lose the race.
More than small, you’re fading,
a distant darkness in this distant town.
It is so much quieter now that you have gone,
in the canal are the whispers of the drowned.
eyes to the pavement
where I want to rest my inner ear
from the drumming tarmacadam chorus
and be blind to shop-lit concrete, porous
to the rainbow lasers in the beer,
bare feet on cement
even as I try to sleep,
as those in sleeping bags succeed,
I see both of you amongst the other kids,
holding on as though I somehow undid
the slab-cracks and tore the weeds,
tied them round feet
On one side,
droplets of your blood
in a descending trail to basements,
impulses of light pierce releasing head-colours,
eyelids stammer and eyelashes flick each others,
unfocussed with fake contentment
and confusion stood
On the other,
in neon you found food
in my bins, and a bed on my bench.
Tonight you saw how I could lead you astray;
Huddled , you slept, so I hustled a doorway
of my own to sleep and change,
from one daily feud