CCTV

Jean Sprackland

Exalted on towers and posts and fitted with articulated necks
that tilt, cock and swivel like the necks of owls, silent and absolute.

Like owls, they have a zealous gaze that does not falter, through no matter
how long a night. Unlike owls they sometimes hunt in pairs or threes,

perched at the corner of a flat roof, protected in cages or bulletproof housing,
some with a mohican of spikes. Not gregarious – no, not that at all –

and for all their cutting-edge robotics, they are nothing without the database.
They are not gods but Recording Angels. They come not flaming, sheathed in light,

but just as dread: all actions witnessed at thirty frames per second,
compressed by algorithm, returned by co-ax cable.

Theirs is the platform and the underpass, the building site and the park gates,
the bridge, the bus stop, the school playground and the cash machine.

Theirs is the shop doorway where you hope for darkness to cover you;
theirs is the scar on your hand and the make of your watch and your eyes.