Midnight, Christmas Eve
So simple, on a night like this, to lose
all fear and lean too far out on the bridge
in admiration of the stars that throw
themselves into black water
and disappear. From the river’s edge
a song begins, flung up from the cathedral,
lifted through its ribs of stone
past its candled arches and its domes
to icy sky, a sound that feels
as pure, unreal as snow falling upward.
The portal is thrown open with the force
of something that wants to be alive.
Song like this could spark a fire
from hopeless wood, or give birth
out of stricken earth to forests
of branch and leaf and bud.
Across the city, a girl’s hair swings
against her cheek, her hands feel
kicking feet, a heartbeat.
The great vault with all its singing
swoops down to look, to where she looks,
a cathedral turned to cradle, the cradle
a gently ribbed cathedral, deep as the sky,
starlit, ready to be filled.
I carry your face in a mobile shrine
and take it out on the Underground.
Your digital eyes look into mine.
I change at Farringdon and I have changed.
Touched by you, my skin is kozo tissue,
my hair rose-perfumed ink,
my eyelids are gold leaf.
The woman on my right,
reflected in the window opposite,
takes on the stillness of an icon,
the boy across the way
lifts his cheek to be pure marble
sculpted in living light. Together,
we travel on into the night,
all of us grown precious,
each one of us alive and rare.
(Excerpted from Over The Moon by Imtiaz Dharker, with permission from Bloodaxe Books)
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