On my wall a print
of St Werburgh’s church,
white stone, solid spire
too solid, as it happened,

too near the castle
for comfort, and so proscribed.
Nearby, a dreamed of street
comes out to play,

a giant cathedral
dips its toes in the river.
Monuments in every drawer,
the winged horses, the swords,

the upraised hands infinitely
persuading. Trams glitter among the trees,
their lacy, longed for shelters
adorn the quays

and near the harbour
in pavement cafes, their eyes shining,
the architects stay up all night
marching cities across a table.

In basement archives, patiently
the future carves its name,
the perfect avenues bide their time
just as, round every corner,

our own better lives catch fire.
Every now and then
we stumble on the plans
and marvel… Meanwhile, though,

there’s this
dirt, mess, handsomeness,
the crooked streets persisting,
the sawn off churches

keeping their peace, a grittiness
in the air like the breath
of the imagined, our
unfinished hearts

still building…