Light Pollution

You’re the patron saint of elsewhere,
jet-lagged and drinking apple juice,
eyeing, from the sixth floor window,
a kidney-shaped swimming pool
the very shade of Hockney blue.
I know the left hand view of life,
I think, and it’s as if I have, of late,
forgotten something in the night –
I wake alone and freezing,
still keeping to my side.
Each evening tidal night rolls in
and the atmosphere is granted
a depth of field by satellites,
the hammock moon, aircraft
sinking into Heathrow.
Above the light pollution,
among the drift of stars tonight
there might be other traffic –
migrations of heron and crane,
their spectral skeins convergent
symbols, arrows, weather systems,
white flotillas bearing steadily
towards their summer feeding.
A million flapping sheets!
Who knows how they do?
Their aids to navigation might be
purely memory and landmarks,
or the brightest constellations.
Perhaps some iron in the blood
detects magnetic north.
I wish one carried you some token,
some post-it note or ticket,
some particular to document
this instant of self-pity –
His Orphic Loneliness, with Dog.
Advances? None miraculous,
though the deadness of the house
will mean your coming home
may seem an anti-climax
somehow, and a trespass.

from On Purpose (Faber, 2007) © Nick Laird 2007, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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