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YouTube, poetry p f playlist: Chris Hardy reading his poem Cleaning Up.
Another strange city
in which you’ve stayed behind,
beyond the see-you-next-time promises
fixed with hugs and window kisses;
the hands-in-pocketing all stations
still like to stop and watch.
You join the scatter of singles
turning away with their books
that speak volumes; drop your gauge
from full to empty. And here is the enemy
you stayed to make friends with:
it’s time for you to court Time.
You walk apart, eyeing each other
nervously, looking for signs. It will be
as well to eat now. The Golden Dragon
is a saunter away, its bright windows
doubling as mirrors. It’s quiet enough.
You wander in and they sit you down.
The man at the next table smiles.
You make the ‘Me Too’ gesture
– the half-rise nod – and return, not
to Time, but to the little vase that has stolen
your eye, broken your uneasy truce
with Time. But time is not the enemy.
It is the tiny mountain.
The one leafless tree.
The bare existence.
It is your envy of it; your disharmony
that has brought in with it
“Can I buy the little vase?”
“No: it is old and has been brought from China.”
Can I aspire to its simplicity?
No: you are not and have not.
You eat, scrabbling for questions
that dare not have answers.
About the little vase.
About the imbalance.
You take it with you when you leave.