Put the horses out to grass, the Derby’s cancelled:
No more crowds this year, nor bunting strung across the inner city.
Chose a windowsill from which to watch the world old-lady style
And learn how the sounds now scarce are what keeps you ticking over
When the neighbours’ exhaust pipe is rattling no longer and their walled-in
Noiselessness puts you in mind of nothing else but time.
Time like tarmac stretching out before you,
Unbid like Sunday strollers who with the light of day to spend
Lean across the garden fence to commend you on the tulips
That come to shame the lawn each year.
The lesson is an awkward one
When the cherries blossom and all else returns to hibernation, safe
As houses a simile no more. The streets lie in waiting for your footfall,
The city’s outlines alive in muscle memory alone.
Now go on: Cast your mind on grass and see them striding out:
On they go, with a swagger, covering their tracks.
“Covering their Tracks” appeared in
StepAway Magazine’s lockdown issue in 2020.