POETRY: 'Impressions'

IMPRESSIONS

Remember looking out at the city?

The great sprawl of neighbours 

and strangers, city-kids

coasting over parched grass

and into their buildings.

From our place up there 

I said to you, winking: 

What do you think of this line?

And then I was at it,

delivering a token of my wit

for appraisal with a mock, regional

accent drawl — 

 

 You’re like a coin with tails on both sides

             when all I want is head  

 

 — You rendered me a cheap, grunt 

of a laugh and I raked my throat,

preparing to spit off the edge

and assert something or other

about how at night, if you try, 

you can hear the steady roar 

of the M25 like static on the radio;

the tidal hiss of our island-city 

that we’ve long ceased to notice.

 

Remember how angry you were 

when I told you I’d stolen that whole speech? 

That I’d read it earlier that day

in a book of yours?

You gave me a look 

that said you clearly already

suspected. But I thought I’d appropriated it well,

and just because the point had been made before — 

 

Anyway, I kept standing and looking out: 

tough face, shoulders back, spit swallowed, 

hoping not you, nor anyone, 

would point out to me

my impressions.