THE FROGMORE POETRY PRIZE 2010

Frances-Anne King

FLEET

Sometimes at night,
waiting for a bus that never comes,
you can feel it –

that pressure of water –
like a memory
breaking to the surface;

a pulse under the skin of wind
that throbs down Charterhouse street,
across Holborn

and slips under the clic-clac-clic
of a woman’s stiletto
tapping out its lonely mantra

on a slope of pavement
that maps a route
the river used to run.

Night and wind collude to give it voice,
and so it moans of loss –
of downfall from a sacred river

to a stinking sewer;
of how it sluiced into the Thames
to mould itself round wherry-boats

and galleons,
of how it lapped
against an orchestra of oars.

Waiting for a bus that never comes,
you’re relieved to see its headlights,
its dimly boxed glitter;

to swing up into its warmth
sink into a grubby seat –
to be spared the weight of water.

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