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.
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.
i’d found stone rock bench platform plateaus
where you used to drink your coffee cigarettes
and laugh at passers-by, sitting on yourself
occasionally eyeing an old-styled frieze
of judgemental swords and curling lips,
half-wondering what shiny sparking floors
hid inside grey white smog smoked walls.
you’d complain about the square
forever being full of something,
usually people, sometimes markets
utterly refusing to let the space be
and your smoking spot’d be stolen
by wooden huts hawking mushy peas
or mulled cider or chocolate tools
she’d sipped at broken wine,
minding her skin on the glass,
she’d told me it made more sense
when you were bruised, when
beautiful tiredness burst
behind your eyelids and cracked
your wrists with all the fury
of what you’d wished you could say.
on days like those we could lie
about the beauty in everything,
but now we can only tell the truth.
We abandoned the street names together
and tried to decide a better way
of falling down these roads and bars
and coffeeshops and bookstores,
anything that meant we didn’t
have to name the floor below
or have to name