London Particular

The ghost of my father
emerges from a doorway at noon on Piccadilly,
his hair just turning grey, like the London day
he’s sailing through in his double-breasted suit.

No more than smoke and mirrors –
that’s what the city does
with its alleys, its burnished brown wood pubs,
scrappy parks, towerblocks toppled to leave

a legacy of empty lots. Locations
which are lost, which lose me
in their ordinariness, the light caress
of a stranger’s arm as I pass by.

These days I find the haze
growing thicker, all the things I can’t remember:
names, dates, faces. The city renders everything
anonymous, disposable.
It happens too with age:

same age as he was when he first arrived,
war still clinging to these Blitz-rung walls,
piles of rubble and dust, bilious fog
hovering like an illness in the sky.