There was a particular girl in the crowd/ at the Half Moon, in Herne Hill/ looking at the stage, the waves/ in the living room, remembering the music/ inviting round the girl who read French poetry on the streets of Twickenham/ watching Le Mépris, with your art school; do you know how long it took to get home, from nights out? To the backwoods/ it took deep into the light of the morning into the next day’s emptiness on the railway high above/ on the bridges of the Thames/ over Richmond Bridge, past those bushed back gardens, do you know them, and I thought about their maze/ how they broke up boredom/ how they were a landscape abused and interrupted;
I had to leave my friends behind/ in their metropolitan/ in their connected/ in their deep-walled/ waking on their sofa/ in the sunshine, in the basement/ bored on my shift, at the department store, in Kingston;
and when I had no friends, the next year, when I’d run away from them, I played the New York Dolls, and then alone with you, at the Half Moon, in the daytime/ near your parents’/ by Brockwell Park, the door in the corner, to the back-rooms; closed/ with the music/ empty/ before you left for university/ looking at each-other, standing on the speakers/ the curtains/ whoever she was, when I was seventeen
I heard you were/ the last time I saw you/ —I love you, you, and you— I heard it was flooded/ I heard she was a poet,
my summer was a burning space of poverty, and silence; behind the city/ like a nuclear, infinite/ silence and white in the staring jungle, empty/ reverberating moped noise, coming closer/ in the heaths by the lakes of the gravel pits; places I could take a mixed-up girlfriend from the estate, never one from Herne Hill/ never a girl from Hampton/ never a face from Putney; and none of them knew the tangles, and the ditches/ like the hollow of forgotten aeroplane crashes/ the jagged garages, broken off/ by Dead River/ the sunken temples of shopping precincts; it would never enter the mind of a girl in a copper bath, in Richmond; a back-room as vast as this, to the sky, so empty.
Barnaby Tydeman spent the winter of 2015-16 farm-sitting in Sicily, writing an illustrated epic poem about the landscapes, myths, and crises of Greece. He was published in the anthology Futures: Poetry of the Greek Crisis in 2015. When not teaching in Greece, he lives on a narrowboat on London's River Lea. Barnaby's poetry and photography can be found on his blog: barnabytydeman.blogspot.com