It’s the one in which you favour walking or bicycling, so that scraps
of history can wrap your ankles and travel up your nose.
If you can tell a shopkeeper’s native tongue (and you usually can)
you greet them in it, to give them another reason to smile.
You go down, uncover the river’s smoking rooms in fragments of
old ones, chatting, puffing out of windows among slimed pebbles
What longitude are we in? Greenwich’s broad green lap, spiky windfalls
of sweet chestnuts gathered by families for the Chinese catering trade.
Always talking and listening, attending as the city — shaking itself out
of its murderous alarms — bundles into its body warmth, a tatty
faded flags and flagstones, door-stepping villages, markets, commons
and streets you help cordon off from traffic, for children to get
in their shouting, poking, progging — a city that makes room
in the bed, and can be prodded to open its prickly arms.
Mark Granier is an Irish poet and photographer. He is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently “Ghostlight: New & Selected Poems” (Salmon Poetry)
This article appears in the 14 Apr 2021 issue of the New Statesman, Careless people