Shorter than the blink inside a blink
the National Grid will sometimes make, when you’ll
turn to a room and say: Was that just me?
People sitting down for dinner don’t feel
their chairs taken away/put back again
much faster that that trick with tablecloths.
A train entering the Olive Mount cutting
shudders, but not a single passenger
complains when it pulls in almost on time.
The birds feel it, though, and if you see
starlings in shoal, seagulls abandoning
cathedral ledges, or a mob of pigeons
lifting from a square as at gunfire,
be warned it may be happening, but then
those sensitive to bat-squeak in the backs
of necks, who claim to hear the distant roar
of comets on the turn – these may well smile
at a world restored, in one piece; though each place
where mineral Liverpool goes wouldn’t believe
what hit it: all that sandstone out to sea
or meshed into the quarters of Cologne.
I’ve felt it a few times when I’ve gone home,
if anything, more often now I’m old
and the gaps between get shorter all the time.
by Paul Farley
from Tramp in Flames
publisher: Picador, London, 2006