Radio at Night


When sleep won’t stop a dripping tap,
won’t warm your feet or keep the burglars at bay,
the radio at night is here.
Radio at night is populous
with plays and sport and life insurance ads,
the radio’s a place where Parliament
is passing laws, where orchestras
play lullabies and local DJs host a quiz
where every caller wins a prize.
Pirates rig their decks in tower blocks
to buffet you with heart-shake bass
and taxi drivers, when the sky is clear,
crackle, book a pick-up, fade.
The weather voice, unwavering, avows
there will be rain but it will pass ; then
live on air a band begins to play, unplugged,
a song of buckled love set right so sweet
you slow dance from the ankles down.

Count the stations, number off the staff
it takes to play the tunes, to speak the lines,
to talk and comfort the insomniac.
To pause and check each channel on the range :
it feels tonight like gathering in the flock.

from Hannah and the Monk (Salt, 2008), © Julia Bird 2008, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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