Approaching Those ‘Ruddy’ Belisha Beacons
Near the Post Office Again
You can see them from a long way off,
From when you pass the half-visible ponies
In the field where the school was
By the bus shelter with the bloke in it,
The bloke whose face is lit by his iPhone
Like a tallow-maker’s face is lit in an old master.
One Belisha Beacon off. One Belisha Beacon on.
Small parcels of light sent first class to each other;
Moons chucking glowing balls across the road’s net.
A car slows by the Post Office and a woman jumps out
And gives me a letter. ‘Can tha stick this in’t box for mi?’
She asks. I will, in a minute. Jogger walks by, gasping-gasp.
First I’ll hold the envelope up to the Belisha Beacon.
Not to read the letter inside, you understand,
Just to gaze at light on paper, light on writing.
by Ian McMillan
first published on Poetry International, 2014
A Belisha beacon (/bəˈliːʃə/) is an amber-colored globe lamp on a tall black and white pole, marking pedestrian crossings of roads in the United Kingdom, Ireland and in other countries influenced by Britain