Raymond, at 60

The 185 from Catford Bridge, the 68 from Euston –
those same buses climbing the long hill into the evening.
This is what stays with him best now, this and watching,
in the ward where mother has finally died,
the way the rain has fallen on the window –
a soft rain sifting down like iron filings.
The whole of that evening he’d kept his eyes fixed on the rain,
out there in the O of the buses’ steel-rimmed headlamps.
Now I am I, he thought, his two dark eyes ablaze – as if he’d
found God
the very moment she’d left him. He took off his hat,
and he put his dry lips to her cheek and kissed her,
unsettled by her warmth, the scent of her skin
so unexpected he found himself suddenly
back on Bondway, crushed to her breast, in a gesture
that meant, he knew now, You are loved. There he was, with her
pulling his bobble-hat over his ears in that finicky way she had.
What was he? Eleven? Twelve? Too old, in any case, for her to be
holding his hand the entire short walk from the house
that first time she’d taken him down to watch the buses.

That first time she’d taken him down to watch the buses,
holding his hand the entire short walk from the house,
what was he? Eleven? Twelve? To old, in any case, for her to be
pulling his bobble-hat over his ears in that finicky way she had
that meant (he knew now) You are loved. There he was with her
back on Bondway, crushed to her breast, in a gesture
so unexpected he found himself suddenly
unsettled by her warmth, the scent of her skin,
and he put his dry lips to her cheek and kissed her.
The very moment she’d left him, he took off his hat.
Now I am I, he thought, his two dark eyes ablaze – as if he’d
found God
out there in the O of the buses’ steel-rimmed headlamps.
The whole of that evening he’d kept his eyes fixed on the rain,
a soft rain sifting down like iron filings,
the way the rain had fallen on the window
in the ward where Mother had finally died.
his is what stays with him best now, this and watching
those same buses climbing he hill long into the evening:
the 185 from Catford Bridge, the 68 from Euston…

Julia Copus

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