Median

 
A boy dashes across the road
from darkness into streetlights, flit
       of limbs through lanes, his bar-code
              body lit
 
for these few seconds. Then he’s gone,
deletes himself with one last stride
       into the darkness on
              the other side.
 
The sodium lamps, tall canopies
along the median of the boulevard,
       are yellow and weak, but these
              alone stand guard.
 
Outside them, shadows thickly mass.
Only small bits of buildings — a sill,
       an eave, a sheen of glass —
              are visible;
 
a footpath fading into black,
a rubbish bin’s half cylinder,
       a swarthy pool of shellac
              around a fender.
 
Beyond the lightly captured islands,
there’s nothing, not a glint, and save
       the roaring highway, silence
              like a vast stalled wave.
 
This is what the boy departs,
and joins again, unknown events
       that his decision starts,
              or those it ends.
 
I saw him maybe six months past.
I am thousands of miles along
       the road, and moving fast
              to the latest song,
 
awake, in the middle of it,
but stressed and trying not to sleep
       on stretches poorly lit,
              trying to keep
 
a closer eye on where the street-light
gives way to dark and all is lost
       or found, since that one night
              my path was crossed.
 

from Early Hours (Gallery, 2015) © Justin Quinn 2015, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

Sponsor this poem

Would you like to sponsor this poem? Find out how here.

Recordings

Justin Quinn Downloads

1Seminar

£0.89

2Hoopoe

£0.89

3Russian Girl on Parizska

£0.89

4Sonnet on Missing a Trip

£0.89

5Temporary Elegy for Petr Borkovec

£0.89

6March

£0.89

7The City Gates

£0.89

8May

£0.89

9Streetwalker

£0.89

10Divorce

£0.89

11The Huge House

£0.89

12Rite

£0.89

13First Spring Days

£0.89

14Child

£0.89

15For My Brother in Kartoum

£0.89

16Elegy

£0.89

17A Glove

£0.89

18Conversation Galante

£0.89

19Median

£0.89

20Riddle

£0.89

21On Kristof Kintera’s Installation Under Nusle Bridge, Prague

£0.89

22Long Bridge

£0.89

23Nostalgia

£0.89

24Reverb

£0.89

25Letter, Including Bears

£0.89

26Wayside Rest

£0.89

27Wood Song

£0.89

28Therapy

£0.89

29Recession Song

£0.89

30For Evan and Jonas, Brewers

£0.89

31Salutation

£0.89

32Flood-Plains

£0.89

33Weed

£0.89

34I Wake Early

£0.89

35Street

£0.89

36First of January

£0.89

37Flowers and Leaves

£0.89

38Evensong

£0.89

39Beech Section

£0.89

40Prague Elegies

£0.89

41Hotel

£0.89

42Tattoo

£0.89

43Floods

£0.89

44Borshch

£0.89

45Patience

£0.89

46Lullaby

£0.89

47Familiar

£0.89

48Small Fury

£0.89

Books by Justin Quinn