I approach the 160° turn to the left,
The public toilets, still there. Those strange,
Striped warning poles and a sign in
Old engineering font (like London
Underground, but rusted) saying ‘STOP WHEN
BELL RINGS’. Up its gentle elevation to the now
Disused offices, paint peeling and windows boarded up
And a shortcut of steps at its side – whereupon
I mused that the Brylcreamed-men in glass-stiff shirts
And slacks drank strained tea or played cards
In between or reading a paper, perhaps?
Letting that grain barge pass, much to the
Annoyance of the snaking traffic (heavy industry
Going home for tea). And I cannot help
But admire the lovely blue railings and
Clay-red bricks, brass fittings and the date
On a tile above the door – 1901, carved in sans-serif,
No doubt opened by a moustached mayor of the day,
And his wife, of low self-esteem, dutifully at his side.
The small, organised gathering, giving up
Their time at a ribbon being cut.
And now, of course, the lights don’t flash
And are misted from the grit. The bridge
Remains there, pointing at the clear,
Blue sky, fingers pointing together,
Pondering decay. The slow brown river,
Never caring, with the sun, helping it on its way.