It’s only in towns like this –
with unpeopled streets, February-gaunt,
under dusk hugging sleet;
built for function, no display to taunt
us with glamour and wealth,
modest, shops shyly in wait
behind small windows and narrow frontages
waiting to serve needs
stimulated by the land’s labour;
untouched by the lustre of greatness
or the lust for consumption –
it’s only in towns like this
that we must face our ignorance,
our not knowing of the town’s truths.
We can dig down a little,
to where neighbour acts on
uncollected milk, or to
where ladders are held steady
in Autumn winds.
But truths of grief, joy and love,
the ambivalences of mutual
dependence, the driving forces
of creation, these remain hidden
behind narrow streets and rough faced walls.