Song birds detune as the clouds pass over,
and the bridge in her naked majesty skeletally looms;
traversing the river is hard enough while sober,
never mind when gin paints cheeks in red blooms.
‘Cross the water there lies a temple, vast
monument to piety or to arts, those huge rooms
given over to works of the recent or ancient past.
And I clutch my bag (slowly unravelling) at the zenith,
try to slip through tourists on feet native-fast.
Night daubs neon smudges on the sky and when, (if)
the sun returns it will claw their colours apart;
And I clutch my bag (torn and loose-hanging), then it
beats on my legs like a drummer waiting to start;
I try to think of the far bank, and be nobler
for the dirty brown river is reaching for my heart.
The Millennium Footbridge connects St Paul’s Cathedral/London School for Boys to the Tate Modern on the South Bank of the Thames. It has no proper sides and is windy as all hell and usually convinces me I’m going to lose all my belongings if not my life every time I cross it, while happy tourists lurk in the middle taking photos.
For more poetry, why not try Know Your Words (with Amy Kreines and Al Kennedy), for more poetry specifically about London there’s For The Love of A City, and for recent poetry there’s Year of the Ghost: Collected Poems 2011.