If you were looking for some dark optimism
From a walk among the tower blocks, in the gloaming
What would you miss, in the long low seduction of the light
Waning pink behind the clouds, behind the towers?

The river moves; the air’s scent of flowers
Floats past as I hang on the concrete
(was it always so thick with lichen?)
And weep.

The corner store is closed, shutters down.
No milk or old onions, no sweets.
I saw an ambulance there last week.

By the Thames a couple arm in arm
Springtime romance blooming, their masks fitted tight.
He jokes about throwing himself in the river
“But” she says, “you’ll be at work”.

In the yellow evening I want to hope
Passing through the square with the bunting
The open pub (landlord in gloves)
And the jolly blonde families in deck chairs
2 metres apart, on their front lawns,
The stylish young arrayed with plastic cups
Celebrating victory 75 years ago.

The dead are still dead.
And the living, us
Are waiting.

This is the easy part.
Songs on the air in the flower scented evening
Barbecue and take-out beer.
Next week, tomorrow, the beer must be served
The trash taken out
The children taught.

And how?
To be alive is
Be alive, until
The spring is spring without you.

(In memory of Barbara Powell, November 1950-May 2002)