(Liverpool Lime Street, 1938)
for Steven Scholes and Peter Hart
Rain makes a river of reflections. Headlight beams shinethis street to a glassy sheen. Windows glow with hearth-like
invitation, hinting at some sweet delights unseen.
Trams ferry their freight through cobblestone tides.
My father and mother could be in this picture:
holding scholar tickets, seen upstairs on the Number Six,
heading home from a day at the seaside, the circus, the flicks.
A foreground clock reads five past four. Back of the tick,
back of the tock, streets are chock-a-block with characters:
department stores and market stalls are stacked with stories
from the Mersey Docks and Laughter Board.
Later, night will wash the sky of colour and daub these bars
with a rosy flush. Tunes will flow into evening air, all lyrical
and lush. This is a painted city, a written city, a spoken city:
speech bubbles up where two figures pass. The craic fizzes
up through pavement cracks.
History rides on tramline tracks: the East Lancs laid four years
before, a road not yet travelled by Matt Busby, who will line up
with Liddell in Liverpool red this season. The Munich debacle
is on the horizon: Chamberlain’s infamous Peace In Our Time.
The last rays of hope shine from the cobbles. We knowwhat’s coming around the corner, what’s approaching
over the border. Crossing the junctions of our own lives,
we pay no heed that the clock now reads one minute to midnight.