Friday 7 October 2022

Swiping left on Larkin by Imtiaz Dharker

 Swiping left on Larkin
Imtiaz Dharker

Here he is younger, his shoulders
thinner. She flicks a finger,
swipes left. He
is dismissed without a flicker.

If they pass on the street, she sees
a boy trudge by with a book and satchel
under the arm, on the way to a lifetime
of drudge, easy to overlook.

In the edge of his eye she is a blur
between staying or dying,
a whiff of abroad, the chaos
of prams and infants teething.

At the end of every birth is grieving.
He takes the dark for a walk, his light
on a leash through the sputtering streets
of a town caught in the act of drowning.

From a window a curtain is waving
but his back is turned. Shops shut up
and shutters come down on the chatter
of living, the guttering years.

All roads lead to a leaving.
He goes in to the bar of the station hotel,
sits for a while. When he leaves, he leaves
a pale ring on the table. Gold

spills out of basements over his feet.
He walks down a street and out
of his name. Beyond rumour and fame,
a flurry of letters blown into gutters,

the glitter of language on cobbles,
his words remain
bright as believing or half-believing,
At the end of the world there is always

the sea and its breathing,
swiping right, swiping right
across a blue screen
to something beginning.

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