To London

It was necessary to move, and at this exit
the beggar, cross-legged at the fork of the tunnel,
calls out Love! A welcome, of sorts.
                The night light fucks the suburb
into nightmare familiarity —
not like a shrammed nerd touting
guided walks and histories that contract
imagination for demolition work,
levelling today's housing,
restoring common greens,
lingering at sites orphaned of their fever
hospitals — by no means that hyperliterate,
poor entrepreneur —

It is the view, the barbed wire roaring into view
round and round the playground walltop.
It is the warehouse, warehouse windows blank of occupation.
It is lives, lives supplied in great number,
fulfilment of numbers.
It is the sense of something shared —
the tailor scissors razoring open
fishmouth stitches, the sewn-up pocket
of the new suit,
and finding something —

But it is new, all new,
even the gangs who graffiti chimneys
scrubbed and lovely, deleted
like the railways delete
repeatedly
the head, the occasionally payrolled head,
the feet
of the quartered commuters, of the vertebral week.

 

Vahni Capildeo, "To London" from Measures of Expatriation. Copyright © 2016 by Vahni Capildeo. Reprinted by permission of Carcanet Press, Ltd..
Source: Measures of Expatriation (Carcanet Press, Ltd., 2016)
More Poems by Vahni Capildeo