Wednesday Poem

The Duke of Nowhere
.

I was the son of the Duke of Nowhere.
Nowhere was home. The first sound I remember

was engines sawing steam, the butt
and squeal of wagons full of clunk

shunted cruelly. Lifted to the window sill
I had my first sight of our exile

as I thought: Here, me,
watching . . . There, trains going away . . .

*
He was living incognito
but his secret was safe with me.

I was the solitary heir to everything
he never once mentioned. I guessed

from his brooding, his whole silent days,
it must be vast. The lost estates

grew vaster in the weeks,
then months, he went away and stayed.

*

Beyond the roofs, beyond the dockyard wall
were cranes, then the edge of the world.

On a clear day I could watch grey frigates
climb it and slip over. I woke one night

to singing in the streets that suddenly
grew small as all the hooters of the fleet

brawled up together, blurting
Home . . . as if any such place

existed, over the horizon, anywhere.

by Philip Gross
from Changes of Address: Poems 1980-1998
Publisher: Bloodaxe, Tarset, 2001
ISBN: 1-85224-572-7

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