count the steps left along the river to count its height – it swells. burst and take you with it, let the water sweep through the memorial, stirring up all the cigarette butts and bottles, wash clean or knock over victoria. i’ll tread water next to floating plastic wreaths, swim up and stand on the marble arch – from there i guess i’ll watch the city try and apologise.
we see different things, here
the riverbank with beer cans
and tree branches, little dead
fire pits of midnight mindful
meetings. a youth misspent
jokingly said, an anecdote
of alcohol & powder & blood,
names of people you don’t see
or think about, unless you’re
telling me about them.
there was a memory we had
of rainfall, storms. a golden
demon-faced statue, standing
facing outward from the temple,
nominally protective. eventually
i creased the photograph of it,
frayed the edges – it’s vivid,
the thought of it – gemstones
in the hilt of the rod he’s carrying,
his sky-blue hands and face. not
the face inside the temple, peeking
from between bodhi tree-roots, or
the no-photograph signed solid
gold siddhartha gautama, long ago
plastered over and hidden, since
rediscovered and praised. i remember
the demon doorman.
some rich bloke bought the land
on the cheap, and gave it
to ‘the citizens of nottingham’
with the assumption it’d never
get built up, be a pleasant
open space forever on the bank
of the river trent. they built
a memorial, grand white marble
arches, vivit post funera virtus.
after the second world war
they had to edit the inscription
on the pillars, to make room
for an extra set of dates.
the garden’s mostly the same,
except for a little metal fence
around the statue of the queen.
i hope they had a good reason.
there’s three wreaths on the
plaques, plastic poppies
for a flying ace – a hand drawn note
from the current head of his battalion.
a little further down the road there’s
a queue for an ice cream truck, and
a shin-high pool bursting with families.