AFTER DARK IN THE CITY

By Rosalind Raphael

After darkness falls, a quiet calm descends:

There’s no one walking on the pavement or around the bends;

Busy workers leave their desks, shouting their goodbyes,

And disappear down stairwells to the labyrinthine

Underground tunnels where they all disperse

On trains that take them homeward bound, to the suburbs.

The wide roads empty as buses, vans and cars

Carry their occupants to restaurants and bars.

Everything has stopped; no sound can be heard

Except the distant rumble of a train towards its berth.

Lifts are static chambers clinging to buildings, amid

Precarious crane sentries that quiver in the wind.

Lights go out in office blocks like a slow… power… cut

And shop floors darken as the doors and grills are shut.

Windows remain lit, where mannequins show their wares

To foxes that prowl the alleyways, pitch black despite their stares.

They knock over dustbins, pigeons in the eaves:

There’s nowhere to sleep here, there are no trees.

Chairs upended on tables and stored behind glass

As bins overflow with remnants of many meals passed

On the pavements, now cleared of newspaper stands,

As after darkness falls, a quiet calm descends.

 

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