Some years now, since they were moved on by a long acre of boulders set down magisterially as glacial erratics.
Driving the bay side, where drifts of sand lap the road like a desiccated sea, I used call on Arthur and Margaret
who would make me at home, serve tea while their two youngest girls on the beach played house with an old TV and battered suite of furniture.
Near the scrap metal dock, Billy’s and Mary’s was like a miniature garden centre: wicker chairs, a ceramic Laurel & Hardy, potted plants.
I never got round to calling on the others, near the lorry-thundering roundabout, their curtains flickering blue: a TV’s phantom hearth.
Ranged behind them: a ditch, a barbed-wire fence, security cameras, enormous silent cranes and neat aisles of well-travelled steel boxes
bigger than caravans, containing next to anything (furniture, foodstuff, TVs bound for homes or business parks), oblongs
of what we’ll soon have in common: securely sealed absences of light numbered in rows lived-with and familiar as a neighbour’s field.
A little word, as practical as why, unpacked itself and came to occupy
a sentence. It began to take up space and found itself a nylon carapace ––
a growing cluster, bright and cellular, as if directed by a branch of air.
Speeches and rain: the weather has been busy. Between the streetlights and CCTV
intelligence is gathering. Something waits that doesn’t need to rattle at the gates.
A single torch-beam rolls its eye. All’s quiet. The tents are temporary but not quite.
Best to remember they are human in there, casually dressed as we are though more secure, apt to forget how much a matter of luck is this slot that walls their cosy boredom and stands sharply between as a glass guillotine.
Mark Granier's fourth collection, Haunt, is due from Salmon Poetry in March 2015. The Tents was first published in The Robin Hood Book, Caparison, 2012.