When the Clocks Go Back

Behind the crick and bang of the house cooling
I hear the spillage of rain, the seltzer splash

out there in the dark. I know the outside wall
is shining like a running mirror in the yellow sluice

of the streetlight, where the gutter blurts water.
Some kind of fabric flags and whips

in the sound of the wind, as if the street were slung
with the slack banners of beaten armies.


I topple back to sleep, the old feeling of a pebble
filling my mouth. And wake, seeping at the mouth

from dreams of toffee and the canal water
falling and rising in the deep lock at Dudley.


At dawn the carpark shrubbery sways in silence.
Two snails are chugging across the front step.

And on the doorframe, swollen and pointed,
a third: a fluke of wet flesh, or petals spoiled into gel.

He had a dozen ways of waking me, always early,
on October mornings like this. I’d leave late

to join Londoners labouring under umbrellas,
cars on Hearne Hill swishing their skirts of rain.

Judy Brown


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