Nick Laird reads

Light Pollution

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You’re the patron saint of elsewhere,
jet-lagged and drinking apple juice,
eyeing, from the sixth-floor window,
a kidney-shaped swimming pool
the very shade of Hockney blue.

I know the left-hand view of life,
I think, and it’s as if I have, of late,
forgotten something in the night —
I wake alone and freezing,
still keeping to my side.

Each evening tidal night rolls in
and the atmosphere is granted
a depth of field by satellites,
the hammock moon, aircraft
sinking into Heathrow.

Above the light pollution,
among the drift of stars tonight
there might be other traffic —
migrations of heron and crane,
their spectral skeins convergent

symbols, arrow, weather systems,
white flotillas bearing steadily
towards their summer feeding.
A million flapping sheets!
Who knows how they know?

The aids to navigation might be
memory and landmarks,
or the brightest constellations.
Perhaps some iron in the blood
detects magnetic north.

I wish one carried you some token,
some Post-it note or ticket,
some particular to document
this instant of self-pity —
His Orphic Loneliness, with Dog.

Advances? None miraculous,
though the deadness of the house
will mean your coming home
may seem an anticlimax
somehow, and a trespass.