Howard Firkin
for John Ruane
Love won’t stalk you now
through inner streets,
past letter boxes crammed with air,
past all those someone’s windows.
Whatever’s there that creeps along the paths
across the running gutters and
around the corners isn’t love, for sure.

Love won’t trip your shadow
in a crowd
and stamp a high heel on your hand,
won’t sow the pavement seams
with weeds, or shake the wet leaves as you pass
below, and no one’s hedge will grow
its usual heavy crop of blackbirds now.

Blood and bone is making
flowers bloom.
The scent you catch is burning toast.
The downpipes warble softly
to the drains, electric kettles whistle,
windows fog, and no one traces
your initials in an empty heart.

Love stands apart (you fall)
and looks for faces
that can look the part. Not yours.
Don’t strain your muddied eyes,
there’s nothing there, and nothing more arrives
to twitch the white net curtains of
your bedroom anyhow. Not love. Not now.