Somewhere in England, 1972
Heading due south, the winter now full in, And evening slowly buttering the land,
The street lights flutter, sputter on.
A small town slides by, then suburbs with, on either hand,
Lit shops; a post office, then petrol pumps,
The brightly burning window of a butcher’s shop;
A newsagents, a hardware store fronted
With ladders, besom brooms and mops.
Soon the houses straggle and give way to open land,
Lone houses, hamlets, farms, clusters, hives
Of the most unique, extraordinary lives.
The light from windows spools onto dark lawns;
People home from work, hang coats, put kettles on
And kiss their kids; these are the everyday,
Small, special, precious gems; the gentle pulses of our world,
That seem as though they’ll beat for ever.
Another village appears, burning out of the dark;
Three teenage girls giggle their way back home,
A lone and cocksure paper boy straddles his bike,
A woman, a saucepan in her hand, turns from the stove,
A child, dressed as a princess, looks out at the night,
An old man stiffly pulls his curtains tight,
Sealing out the world, sealing in the light.
Here, and everywhere, an infinity of local epics
Go scattering; small sagas weave and web across our world.
So I drive on, a ghost, a revenant,
Through all those tales, those books, trawling
Through the shoals, slipping through the dusk,
Threading dark country miles and quiet streets
With all their infinite, endless stories.
Until I feel tonight, that here and now,
There well could be no end;
That the car and my own story will go on
For ever, through all the villages and towns,
The hamlets and the straggling farmlands
And dreaming suburbs of the night-coming world;
Through a universe of histories,
Riding on for ever through their lives,
Spinning out my own small, curious, fable.