Photograph and poem by Godelieve De Bree
I start, step onto the assigned street
am struck by neon nails
brought up to split of the lip
then the orbs of sandwich
in the cheeks of a crouching man,
scornful of the city, he swallows.
Conscious that every motion
renders reality into oblivion
behind me, I advance, seek to see
anew, the street I stumble on daily.
A flag flies,
non-existent if not for the slight of the neck, noted.
Skies super-imposed on ceilings
reflected into the glass of shop windows.
Clouds of smoke, rising high and giving
way, to nothing. Practice patience for lights that never change, pedestrians and the inevitable dusting of rain –
I am stopped – ‘would I like…?’ –
gently declined, too preoccupied with class or yellow rain boots smaller than my fist
or a hand that has slipped from a sleeping bag that seems to reach for a satsuma
alone, alight on asphalt –
then those hands that are firmly gripped
around the warmth of a coffee cup,
motion upwards and kissing plastic.
Voices rise above the muttering of motors,
a splash of Spanish, stomachache,
then the interlude of a lecture
informs me that the word strond
means “that bit along the river”
and then I walk between two cars
two feet apart, splayed over the crossing –
filter for bodies, I follow
the pendulum of a ponytail.
Cars squawk at one another,
birds bickering over a chip,
leaves twitching under the red web
of claws. Then spot cigarette butts in McDonald’s coffee cups
floating discarded, breaking apart the oily film
of its surface.
Godelieve is a second-year English Literature Student. Having been born in the US to Dutch parents before being raised in the UK, she feels a strong affinity to London and the identity of feeling like a ‘Londoner’. Her particular interests include modernism and modernist poetry, American literature and translation.