A City Remembered
Unlovely city, to which few tourists come
With squinting cameras and alien hats;
Left under a cloud by those who love the sun
And can afford to marry – a cloud of bits
Of soot more myriad than gnats, a cloud
Of smoke and rain, an insubstantial threat
Whose colour is the pigment of long wrath,
I think of you, surprised to find my blood
Warmed by a wry desire, a kind of love.
I see the trams, like galleons at night,
Go rocking with their golden cargo down
The iron hills; then hearing that bold din
My other senses frolic at a fête
Of phantom guests – the smells of fish and chips,
Laborious smoke, stale beer and autumn gusts,
The whispering shadows and the winking hips,
The crack of frosty whips, brief summer"s dust.
And in that city through a forked November
Love, like a Catherine-wheel, delighted me
And when it sputtered out, hung charred and sombre,
The city flavoured my delicious misery.
And so I guess that any landscape"s beauty
Is fathered by associative joys
Held in a shared, historic memory,
For beauty is the shape of our desires.
My northern city, then, by many called
Ugly or worse, much like an aged nurse
Tender yet stern who taught one how to walk,
Is dear to me, and it will always have
A desolate enchantment that I"ll love.