Betty Shabazz
A View from a Bridge

From my overt vantage, I see: high cooling
towers, like fat coffee-pots, spouting steam;
loving young mothers at garden gates calling
their kids, who return in a steady stream;

the streets, as a sudden down pour drenches
twitching washing hung on silver dripping lines, which
are awash and the loud gurgling drain chutes
away acidic rain into a dirty ditch;

neglected waste ground, beside the fizzing road,
that leads into the town centre, miles away;
a crumbling old car and a man who rides
his bike past where trees used to idly sway;

a grimy pub, where men have sheltered
from the rain; a large, grubby truck chugging
in backed up traffic, its load of shale tiered
in boxes; wet roadside workers shrugging,

grumpily touching up yellow road markings
that have grown faint from the many tyres
skidding over the reflecting message; muck rings
around chimneys spewing black smoke from fires;

wooden struts that cleave the bleak sky in two halves;
speeding trains rattle and clack southwards,
disturbing horses, who flash their dark hooves,
as they shoot past the farms, fields and damp woods.

Now, turning to go, I am forced to leave.
As the clouds cluster in the north, the sun
sails west, the eastern ocean’s timeless heave
continues to roll, my arching southern

vantage demolished. I feel a deep pang
of mourning, as slowly, it shadows on
the bridge, drops, crumbles. And with the bang,
that handsome monstrous carbuncle is gone.

Alan Turing, English mathematician, computer scientist and logician, was born today in 1912.

Betty Shabazz, also known as Betty X, American educator and civil rights advocate, died today in 1997.

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