My gaze lolls downward,
Drawn by the inherent danger of the pavers laid
And layers paved;
Of time on history on settlement on nature.
The levels are uneven,
With hints of former ages peeking through –
Sometimes a patch of yesteryear,
Here a glimpse of Roman ruin.
But almost never the crack and burst of grass,
Which is relegated to handsome and well-bounded regions,
Property of Her Majesty.
I wish to drag eyes upward,
To see the things that brought me here –
The new-to-me, in-person history that lives beneath my feet and over my head.
I want to adopt the insufferable tourist gaze for a moment,
But it clashes so with my Chancery Lane uniform,
And with the mood of the tide that waits for no human.
The ground colludes with the robotic crowd,
Threatens with no subtlety so that you know the risk
Of dalliance, daydream, ambivalent wandering.
The primary menace is to ankles; the secondary to pride. At home,If tripped,One would stare accusingly backward for the culprit,
Hoping to regain some dignity through indignation,
Blame squared upon a crack that stubbed at toe
Or gap that seized at foot –
The intention was clear, the fault apparent,
And most certainly not one’s own.
A troll beneath the otherwise smooth bridge and calm waters,
An outlier, a dissident.
There is no looking back for restitution,
The blunder settled directly on your own wind-up shoulders.
If I mis-stepped and slipped-up,
I would be a stunted island,
And as the Jetstream slipped past me,
I would debate whether to abruptly rise into the way that I would get in,
Or remain crouched, then foetal, then slowly rolling skywards.
Here I could watch life flash by rather than flash by my life.
Here I could be still and look up,
And wonder, and watch, and marvel…