The first day on the job,
I wait in the meeting room reading Anna Karenina.
The tour happens painfully,
miserable people look up from their desks and smile.
(I can’t remember names)
she found her son dead in their bathroom three years ago.
This is – and her husband left her for her best friend
This is- and he has a drinking problem, and he takes a lot of holidays to Indonesia.
I look around the office and smile back at them.
The night feels like a hot bath
the people are ugly now. Twenty years ago many were beautiful.
Everyone is angry.
Nothing is true.
The fear is to be felt most keenly
As the years pass and begin to pass quicker still,
A fear of opening the front door one day
And stepping into a quiet hall
‘I am alone.’
Standing outside my old house on that beautiful street,
too late in the evening,
being watched by every dog and old woman.
I run my hand along the fence and remember I did this 30 years ago.
The broken sidewalk has been fixed,
the streetlights are brighter,
but that is all that has changed.
I think about the legs as they cross themselves in late night cafes
I watch the waitress as she wipes down tables.
She has a blue-black eagle tattooed on her bicep.
She looks around blindly
And occasionally laughs at something the cook says to her as she passes him.
I have heard the words of beauty,
And I too have had to get up from my stool
And catch the bus,
It arrives at 2 am
And leaves at 2.03.