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.


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