‘The past is preserved within objects as souls are kept in earthen bodies.’
Orhan Pamuk, The Museum of Innocence

I had waited all my life for this.
She looked like Jean Seberg
in the long mirror
in the shirt she’d lifted from my drawer
and I told her:

À Bout de Souffle, Place de la Concorde,
the hotel room, the cigarettes,
being spied on.
I looked in. Freeze-frame needed,
and I would never wash that shirt again.
The extant moment:
a memory made into an object.

When the need arose she found the words
she didn’t know she knew.

Across the mind lines cross and diverge like points,
towards a terminus somewhere with a foreign touch.

Journeys, the adventure of being free,
Trieste, Istanbul, making do with guesswork

and all the time
fearing the long anti-climax

erosion at a steady rate
left at the top of a hill looking down



Waterloo Station, 1966

Each day they dropped like petals onto the platforms
according to their ages
and I was on platform 14
inside my badge and buckled satchel
listening for Cobham, Hook and Oxshott,
Virginia Water and Weybridge,
a litany of the unrealised
down the line.

We padded the streets like cats then
and in the stationary places to be watched
was customary, my bold tie flashing
across the glass echoes and boom of the city,
concourse cul-de-sacs, newsstand islets,
out-of-the-rain idleness.

What did he do afterwards
the well-to-do man dogging my steps,
what did he think after his beseeching
once he’d pulled up the window on its strap
in our compartment close as the confessional-box.

Engines labour towards their ends
and between-stops is no remission,
until the next word, Berrylands, Surbiton,
then Esher, where he alighted
wishing and wishing
to prolong his stay
until my very place
he said.


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