Relatively

written by John Beevers

Relatively

— John Beevers

Someone across the crowded room says
'Radio Luxemburg'
and it's like hearing your life
through the screech and moan
of wireless valves.
Were you really there,
in Mario Lanza days,
Sunday dinner in stiff church clothes.
Cigarette cards, comics, conkers
and pencil cases.
When you rode an invisible horse?

They hit the towers last year.
God knows. Maybe it's the alchemy
of new weapons and old superstitions.
You saw a woman sobbing
on her knees in Bleeker Street.
Briefly, because you were rushing
to meet a client.
You remember that,
although you cannot recall the contract. But later,
it all sings beyond the edge of your cognition.
Like an advertising jingle.

And you recall that hot summer of forty seven,
the year they got you a sister.
You lived on a farm with a great aunt
whose oil lamps flickered and sang at bedtime.
Icy water from the spring in clanking buckets,
and walking past crab apple trees to the privy.
Auntie was waiting, 'two years now'
to hear from Owen, missing in Burma.
'I'll bide my time, she said.
You can't get back what's done.'

But you can, can’t you? If you go fast enough?

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