From Richmond Hill
Home from hospital, you doze in my arm, milk-drunk,
all eyelashes, cheeks and raw umbilical, swaddled
in the heavy black smells of the brewery.
Your great-grandfathers worked all their lives in that factory.
Every day they were there, breathing the same air, hoisting
barrels, sweating over vats where black bubbles rose like fat.
At dusk, they poured into pubs and ordered porter,
neat black pints lidded with white silk, thick as cream
from frothing milk, and their replies were always the same:
the gasp, the nod. Down gullets and guts went the porter,
went the pay, went the nights and days. Every day
the same — coins slapped on the counter. No change.
In my arms, you stir. A thousand streetlamps
flicker to light in the dusk. As I watch your eyes open,
the reek of roasting hops knits a blanket of scent around us.