The disappearance of time, a life as orderly
as the formal view with its row of poplars
and the sleeping river, which at the mill
was brilliance but now has found its level
lower, less limber; these and these alone
are offered by this city with no echoes
where leaves by the cathedral murmur
obliquely their little snide exclusions
and the tobacconists remember the dead.
A woman here would be housed among women,
making love and a tray of muffins
with the same tranquillised complacency –
or say wildly, When I was sent for mending
I was limp and unbuttoned, torn by carelessness:
now, light shines through the pinpricks in my arms.
This is a man’s world of leather bindings
and football posts bowed down by swinging children.
A file of boys appears in the early mist,
shuffling to showers, muddied, jogging half-crouched
as though they feared the mist would turn to gas.