There must have been a doorstep once
Where those three met and spoke,
His mad red curls, her jaunty scarf,
His thin wrists, long black coat.
I never knew them, never was
As young as they were when
Drunk with hope - and a little more -
They knew each other then.

One broke into a bawdy song.
She shook her head, beguiled,
Then pushed him down the rain-black steps.
Even the sad one smiled.
Rain on the shoulder, rain on lips,
Her coat warm as a hen
She lent one money, one a kiss,
They knew each other then.

What is known, in today’s hard sun,
Is all too quickly said.
He drank. She lost her lovely voice.
The quiet one is dead.
The dog rose, heart-shaped in its thorns,
Shivers upon the stem
Glints perfect, shatters at my touch,
Never and always, then.

Alison Brackenbury

If you have any comments on this poem, Alison Brackenbury would be pleased to hear from you.

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