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

 

lawns mowed

pharmaceuticals and cosmetics dispensed

ohms revived.

 

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.

Divan 2013