From ‘City of Rivers’
The Coach Station, St James’ Boulevard, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Bright station and all around soft dark. Toothpaste and sleep,
coffee and the white crunch of salt on the concourse. I remember
the headlamps snorting, boarding by the black steps and then
the first gull caw ricochet, for a moment hesitated.
That’s how it was the morning I left. Too cold for snow, hills
thick with February, sloping black backed where the river
mud-flowered in the wake of a boat. On deck a man stopped,
paused to watch Millennium Bridge arch up to let him pass.
But I was less going somewhere than getting out. Past St James’
down by traffic lights and one-way system changes to the other bridge:
Red-yuff and beyond it Gateshead, Birtley, Armstrong and Bowburn,
and further still, all the places I would go.
When I think of him I still see a small boat dieseling through,
the river below me breathing as all rivers do.