New year 2017. Today I walked a while around my old town. I don't get here much. From the shuttered shops and empty spaces it seems, like many places, they are closing it down. So far they have taken everything up to the knees. As I sat drinking a coffee waiting for a phone to be mended I thought back to my childhood and the dirty, busy, mysterious town this once was.
OK it wasn’t so great,
When the winter damp rolled
The chimney smoke over and over
Till the days were a long twilight of sulphur mist,
In which strangers, shuffling and apologetic
Materialised at your side, hunched a little lower,
And in the same moment of trickery
An entire trolley bus, sparking and clattering, became visible
Carrying sombre mannequins in hats and scarves,
In a long retreat
Before vanishing to a muffled tolling bell.
When my mother taking our hands,
And telling us not to breathe
Would pull us home
Under the iron bridge smouldering in a fiery glow from
A steam train as it slowed and sighed above
Onto an empty platform
Adding its underbreath to the stinking mustard air.
Past the strange shop windows
Lonely and lost in a melancholy air;
Along the looming giants of furious Plane trees
Into the serious dark of the sidestreet
To the haunted nervous places
Past the ‘rec’, the bowling club and the brook,
Lingering only it seems in the young memory of summer.
Back to home to the worried dog and the cold, cleaner air
Watching the fire kindle in the grate
Pressing my cheek against the tears on the window
I would watch till my still dark father would return.
(c) Steve Bonham 2017