At the Crossing
The tall guy in a green T-shirt,
vanishing past me as I cross
in the opposite direction,
has fairy wings on his shoulders:
toy ones, children’s fancy-dress wings,
cartoonish butterfly cut-outs.
Do they say gay? No time for that.
He flickers past the traffic lights –
whoosh! gone! – outside categories.
Do they say foreign? They say young.
They say London. Grab it, they say.
Kiss the winged joy as it flies.
Traffic swings around the corner;
gusts of drizzle sweep us along
the Strand in the glittering dark,
threading to and fro among skeins
of never-quite-colliding blurs.
All this whirling’s why we came out.
Those fragile flaps could lift no one.
Perhaps they were ironic wings,
tongue-in-cheek look-at-me tokens
to make it clear he had no need
of hydraulics, being himself
Wings, though; definite wings.
by Fleur Adcock
from Glass Wings
publisher: Bloodaxe, Newcastle, 2013