The Last Fish and Chip Shop This Side of Town
A filament lighting a dark bulb of shops,
the long counter and behind it hot plates
and vats stretching into light out of
the rain. A row of customers waits,
hands behind backs in the line’s cheerful democracy
under a calendar of three years ago, promising
pharmaceuticals and cosmetics dispensed
The one celebrity allowed, a grandchild’s photo
peeps out from behind the till, a plastic jar of lollypops
and a buxom biker molesting a Chiko.
Meanwhile, Pete’s distracted patter goes on, pencil stub scratching
on a fat pad: ‘so what have youse got planned
for the weekend?’
Regulars check in to a conversation that goes on for months:
too public for confession, too brief for consolation,
settled as a psalter.
He is the other ferryman,
the one who brings you back;
who slaps an obolus on the counter for you
as if to say
belonging is still possible.
Someone holds the door open and we step outside
to children making ancient shapes
in the darkness with their sparklers
and with tiny lights on their sneakers.