On the Other Foot the Camera Never Lies

Two beggars, one busker and two Big Issue
sellers on a London bridge… It could be the start
of a bad-taste joke, a shaggy dog tale or the lyric
of a song in which planes trail over, helicopters
whirr, barges and boats sally as the tide rises
and falls, umbrellas are lifted and lowered,
suitcases waggle and drag, mobiles ring, earphones
sing, chips are dipped, milkshakes sipped and fags
are lit as humanity and I rush past. I could lend it
to the busker when I return. But it’s simply
a statement of fact. And I assuage my guilt
with common-place mantras of money misspent
on drugs and alcohol, remembering the smiles
of children in Umtata as they held out hands
for the photos I’d taken – cuteness locked
in my camera. Next time a Polaroid.
How I said to myself I’d not be like my parents -
as a fourth child whose photos are few. But digital
arrived, printed photos died. Remembering lads
who don’t care if they’re haves or have-nots
once a football’s produced, a game’s up for grabs,
and African mothers rocking my children’s
teddy bear. ‘Hush little baby, don’t say a word,
Papa’s going to buy you a mocking bird.’
Broken promises. How I vowed I’d not follow
in my father’s footsteps tracking names
JanetAliceKenNanc… to hit on me. But I do.
Bunions are caused by ill-fitting shoes.

Nancy Charley