About the poet
Mark Ford was born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1962; he grew up there, and in Nigeria, Sri Lanka, the U...
Is the night
Chilly and dark? The night is chilly
But not dark. An all but full
Slides above barely visible clouds, and is greeted
By a burst of hooting from an urban
Tawny owl. On empty
Brownfield sites they nest, and rear their young, and feed
On vermin. Has
Probing, saucer-eyed astronomer, even a modern
Or French one, ever
Grown genuinely accustomed ‘aux profondeurs du grand
Vide céleste’? Someone halts, and broods
In the deserted doorway of a Chinese
Is struggling to rise swiftly
From his chair.
* * *
A pair of empty
Curly brackets might have been
His colophon, I thought, parting one night
At closing time
On Great Russell Street, outside our last port of call, the Museum
Tavern. Between his thick-
Soled hiking boots rested a battered duffel bag with a single yellow
Shin pad protruding. A group
Of youthful party-goers sashayed by – one wearing a traffic cone
On her head: ‘like
A complete unknooown,’ a voice from the pack
Intoned … I was picturing the shiny black
Cab he so imperiously
Hailed whisking him west, revving, cruising, braking, gliding
Across junctions, the driver
At length twisting around, awaiting payment, as I veered
And tacked through the eerily silent
Squares of Bloomsbury, towards Euston.
from Six Children (Faber, 2011), © Mark Ford 2011, used by permission of the author and the publisher.
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