City Wakes

It’s still dark, the risen sun shrouded
like a conspirator. The rain, pouring from roofs
and rones, carries a freight of city centre discard
along gutter-canals, over drains, stuffed full.

Day enters the streets like an animal,
sipping at puddles, padding through the tented city
beneath dark-arches, sniffs soaking limbs,
damp smoke, the greasy shrine of leftovers,

curls through a labyrinth of cans, laid out in tribute
to the god Oblivion. The river flows black,
like a great depression, a reflective creek
silvered by headlamps and polished balustrades.

And where the soaring buildings ascend,
you might see starlings come to roost in chinks, on ledges,
a continuous jostling for space, their nests unfurnished,
and below, the head-down-hurry-don’t-be-late battalions,

clipping along, drinking snatched coffees,
appreciating hot and bitter warmth,
ears filled with the gathering roar
of traffic, the runes of wind over water.

Lesley Quayle