"The Descent": a poem by Emily Berry

By then the post boxes were gagged.
Fire was a controlled substance and music
was banned unilaterally. Nobody had a birthday.

I met you beneath a broken streetlamp
on Aldwych, where you once explained
Actor-Network Theory using raisins.

Fresh fruit was considered anarchic.
I’ve always been scared to do wrong.
We walked the wide streets through the city;

I watched your breath disperse in the frosty air
and feared I was failing at living. You led me
through an unmarked door, down stairs

that spiralled underground. The temperature rose
and the walls throbbed as we descended.
Whatever I still clung to gave way at last,

just as a floor might fall in a burning house.
Until the final step you kept your back to me.
I hardly knew you; I hardly knew myself.

This article first appeared in the 05 November 2012 issue of the New Statesman, What if Romney wins?