the day was fust
there were no birds winging
across the wrung out rag of sky
no tree-rustle or wind-hum
just the flamesome worry
and the persistence of planes
whomping through hungover clouds
it wasn’t a festive outing
nothing was cheery or brightly clean
the heavens were alive
with all the wrong kinds of possibility
we didn’t dare turn on the news
but waited wishing for shelters
with torch batteries
But the river keeps on flowing, choking up with weed like always. There might be fish here if you look hard enough, if the brickworks haven’t left it too polluted. You slept here once, years ago, on the pine-needled ground, food kept in an old metal shopping trolley to deter the rats, his hands on your waist – the hands that would later, the hands that would try and make you take the blame. Why do they have to keep carving up the land, hacking it apart like an old carcass? Here is where your teenage aunt and her longhaired boyfriend tried to scare you; twigs cracking like gunshot behind your back. Nothing exists now but the roar of traffic. Where is the second weir where the boys rode their bikes off the high concrete bank, dropping like stones into the river below?
He is a desk-jockey and no mistake,
riding the nine to five swivel chair,
each working day a rodeo steer
to be lassoed and broken.
Here is an escaped afternoon boiling
over into the people-dense street;
here is a lift stuck between floors.
He is hardwired to the keyboard,
When you speak he turns his blank- screen
face towards your voice. A software crash
rolls across the space between you –
everything in an instant frozen.
You are a blip he can’t quite register, a rogue cursor.
After lunch he saddles up again,
and as he gallops past you in the corridor
there’s a momentary flicker.
You find his emails in the spam filter later,
press delete without reading.
Julia Webb is a graduate of UEA’s Poetry MA. She is an editor for Lighthouse, and she works as a creative writing tutor and for Gatehouse Press. Her first collection Bird Sisters was published by Nine Arches Press in 2016.