Howard Firkin
The Sheffield soot is being washed away.
It’s disappearing from the brick and stone
and leaving new apartments you can own,
appliance stores, street stalls on market day,
night clubs, and tourist buses. Is this strange?
I wanted steel grey skies. I wanted blades.
I wanted grime and something that explained
an absence. Nothing did. At least it rained.
At least, I think it did. The picture fades
as memories and futures interchange.

The only thing that I can say about
the town I thought I’d see: it wasn’t there.
Developers have cleared the foundries out,
and absence breathes its poison through the air.