Ode to the Lost Path 

                        for Fran Lock 
I entered the life I’d created 
then immediately lost my way  
she said, traversing graffitied subways 
past the demolished library 
to areas of sub-standard housing 
where tourists never venture 
is this my pavement? my road? 
is the shopping mall mine 
patrolled by big men in uniform 
topping up their Universal Credit? 
is it OK to window-shop? 
I open my purse, it’s full of oysters 
not a single pearl 
I look at google maps 
not a single straight path 
past the retail parks 
& railway sidings 
through darkness  
of small-time crooks 
drunks & dead-beats 
delirious losers 
of TV talent shows 
& sad-eyed academics 
on minimum wage 
o where is mine countrie? 
it cometh forth like a flower 
& is cut down, & where 
where, she asked are 
the houses built for  
sustenance & not for profit? 
the life I created isn’t mine 
I have to build it  
from discarded words 
& sentences that make sense 
only to twisted minds 
tongue-tied, I sing 
a memory-lapse series of moments 
rained-on turf soaked in grief 
visions of Albion 
Sunderland’s sad factories 
& heritage museums 
I ask what use is the past 
if it doesn’t remind us 
of all those  
who’ve laboured in it? 
I hum the tunes to adverts 
& list the products I like 
feature-rich & discounted 
o lead me to endangered orchids 
in the oakwoods of Derbyshire 
show me dog walkers 
& litter bins 
imbued with transience 
& an otherworldly light 
& let the new-made Sun 
spill over this world 
old & ruined as it is 
I need a soft scoop 
of something sweet 
a multi-vocal harmony 
interrupted by adverts 
a splash of colour 
on a high-resolution sky  
manganese water mixable 
what’s on the news?  
the death of a duke 
anything else? no  
is your life 
full of the world 
as you imagine it? no 
do you wish for…? yes, grass 
shaken by the wind 
& the big trees across the park 
to dance their stately dance  
& birds to be buffeted 
& soaring 
I want to sleep the sleep  
of sandpipers, one eye  
always open to the world 
dreams illuminated by a real Sun 
I want to switch off 
the TV & lie 
with Night draped  
over my shoulders 
keeping me warm 
with its invisible light 
open to quantum effects 
& warped time 
in which buskers get rich 
though the coffee is cold 
& the day  
turns dark early 
set on fire by clouds


Alan Baker


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One Response to Ode to the Lost Path 

    1. ‘Want to the sleep of sandpipers’ great line Alan in a fascinating poem!

      Comment by Sue Dymoke on 11 September, 2021 at 7:04 am

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