Saint Martin in Euston
by Fran Lock
miserere. monday is a man reduced to his bare
incident, a stain the pavement eats. a sharded
light is stalled between the concrete benches,
busses, cranes. drills compete, declare a complex
discord. everywhere the air is rutted, hurts.
and yet the earth turns still. the concourse fills
with factions, mobs, gym memberships, majorities,
miniskirts, miskiltered mouths. here are the men
who bury their piqued slang in mobile phones,
little kids who kick at pigeons; prêt a manger
sandwiches, the salaries and symptoms. miserere.
this circus of averted eyes and shifted weight.
we wait in line for black americano. cargo
of feeble guilts. appropriate frown, a face made
plasticine with pity. melt. and it is terrible. drink
up, get out, and go, cocking deaf in headphones,
march like regiments or inmates. off to work.
but then –
monday is a man, and when he speaks
the old home hails me; love becomes a wet
umbrella, sprung indoors. i felt – i saw –
i thought about saint martin, cutting his cloak
in two. miserere. it’s all too much, sometimes.
the grim unfolded fact of it. the shit. how lips
are franked by sanction, shrinking into slur
and stoop and scuff. undifferent dirt. these
grounded birds. these ragged nails and filthy
cuffs. i saw – i heard – and in my head saint
martin stands, as naked as a maypole. his halo
weak and radiant-hard. the struggling
fluorescence of a lightbulb in a bedsit.
backstreet, bus stop, tarmac yard, this his
kingdom. tears his shirt, his hair,
his skin to whispers. still, there’s not
enough of him. can’t cover such a vast
and shuffling need. miserere. love is this
machine for stretching. here we are in
incomes and indifference, rolling our eyes
like pellets of bread in order not to see.
saint martin through a megaphone, ranting
and antagonised. what’s wrong with you?
what’s wrong with you? and then you cut
your cloak in two.
Saint Martin of Torres is the patron saint of homeless people.
Fran Lock is a poet, illustrator, and political activist. She has written several collections of poetry, the most recent being 'Muses and Bruises', published by Culture Matters.