featuredimagePartita, 1968

When the tabla and double bass are really moving
the raga in full swing
I think of when I used to run for hours, for miles

out of the door in my old bent trainers
early winter nights, the streetlamps flickering on
heel-toe, heel-toe

through Clapham, Balham, and down the hill
to Tooting Bec
men in white robes on the white temple steps

a child eating with her fingers
in a canteen strung in Diwali lights
           smell of cumin on the cold black air


Sometimes I think Partita is the girl
           on the album cover, and all the musicians
are in love with her

           Only Joe is free of her, stood
at the Five-Note bar alone
           black suit, white shirt and saxophone.


When the trumpet plays, half-muted, something
           like a fanfare, something like a party horn
(we called them twizzlers or fandoozles, flid whistlers)

           I remember turning back on the Common
the houses lost from sight
           stumbling on tree-roots, listening

to help me see
           heel-toe, heel-toe
past a man on a bench, smoking in the dark

           a freight train stalled on the bridge
a dog, all shadow
           springing out across my path –

raga (Sanskrit) – meaning literally “colour, hue”
‘Partita’ is the first track on the 1968 album Indo Jazz Fusions by John Mayer and Joe Harriott

Hannah Lowe was born in Ilford to an English mother and Jamaican-Chinese father. Her first book-length collection Chick (Bloodaxe Books, 2013) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize for Poetry 2014. Her chapbook Ormonde was published in November by Hercules Editions and her family memoir Long Time, No See was published by Periscope in  July 2015 and featured as Radio 4’s Book of the Week. In September 2014, she was named as one of 20 Next Generation poets.


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