My only way home was across the line
that ran to the City of gentlemen and money.
I remember a thousand bicycles
eddying around me, held back by gates
as heavy and slow as the locks of the Lee.
One rider was a Catcher.
I once saw him standing by
a low steel barrier
holding long and unwieldy tongs,
he wore an overcoat to his boots,
tied with string at the waist.
Thirty foot of luminous copper rod
shot through a small hole at his feet.
As quick as a mongoose
he caught it by the neck,
snapped it over and around
to flail down a long, iron chute.
He threaded it back through the barrier
to be pulled, to be rolled to wire.
Each day, he risked
a thousand fiery embraces.
He’s no longer there,
the factory with its great crucibles
of flowing, smoking metal gone
in its place… warehouses.
Roads have lanced Brimsdown,
factories and workers bled away.
there are no bikes,
the new barrier light and quick to lift.
The line still runs to
a City of gentlemen and money.
© Anthony Fisher July 2007