On a crisp winter’s day half a world away
from the ones I loved, I sat on a bench dedicated
to people who shared this view, once. Who
watched the Thames throwing itself against
the concrete walls, who may too have closed
their eyes, imagined the shouts of children
running through the giant bubble blown
by a man in a T-shirt in December,
were their nephews and nieces.
I thought I saw, amongst the crowds fleeing
the National with scarves and programmes
fluttering, my long-necked mother striding out,
my broad-shouldered father encasing her
in his coat. Fighting the wind which threatened
snow, seeking out a corner snug or bulbous black
cab to spirit them away to a place where the record
player scratched out the Tarantella’s rhythm.
What would they make of this place?
The ebb and flow of tourists and commuters—
trainer clad and coffee clutching,
cameras dangling like gothic necklaces?
Hungry for a taste of home, I walked on,
though evening was rushing after me. I
found myself again, on a bench, staring at
the Portrait of a Young Woman, more at home
above our kitchen table than in the Tate’s