For Shaun Gladwell and Tania Doropoulos
The ancient stink of the Thames drifts in fog along narrow streets
and lanes, still cobbled—a blessing for those who like to hear
the hard clack of boots in the mist—a hollow ring that echoes
against the stone of history. A royal few heard that last sound
and smelled their last river as axe-deaths came to them in Tower’s
yard, from the executioner’s house in Bermondsey Street.
Now three of us walk, breathing in the January cold on a day
already dark, muffled, but for the insistent clack, clack of our boots.
At times we seem to swim in moons of orange light that fall
as lulling pools from street lamps strung along the curve,
and we talk of other places, home mostly, where brash sunshine blazes
days and time is like an exultant dog, oblivious, rushing, demanding.
Here, time insinuates itself as a damp rub against our skin
and we shiver within it, as the waiting dead must have done.