At the Katz (Graham Nunn)

Verity La Heightened Talk

The insect that chirps here every night
tonight is chirping under the bed.
The insect sound is cold and constant as the rain
whispering outside the window.
The sound of this insect that nightly chirps
has buried its loneliness inside me.
Of this place I know
the window houses
three pigeons under the sill.
These birds scour the roof
each night for warmth
or whatever. Two are arguing
now, for a few inches of brick.
How the mind moves out when
there is only one glass for seeing.
I stand at the window and mark
each bird, roof, spire as the boundaries
of the neighbourhood
they define. I am wearing
my favourite black coat. Every hour
I wipe clean my eyes.
It’s after midnight and a young man returning
from late shift tests what strength
he has left by kicking a bottle against
the brick work of the front wall.
Son of a bitch, he mutters. He is the collective
curse on this night that reeks of tinned fish and TV.
I am waiting for a poem, something
simple, undisturbed by curses.
Words that release themselves
from the night. Words that come
naturally, without aiming at anything.
While I wait, I continue to listen
to the insects and birds
at the window, hoping
for sleep to arrive.