prose

This Town Made Me

I get out of the car in the rainy parking lot. I cross a roundabout too small to be taken seriously.

A familiar face, huddled in rainjacket, approaches towards me.

It is a lost lover. Explosive chemistry has long-passed, but his beautiful face – now plumper – smiles and kisses me.
But the exchange is too-brief; he must go to pick up his wife from school, where she teaches extras on Saturday.

Memory Kicks In, and there in the rain I realise that This Town Made Me.

Though I disowned her long ago, and feel out of place right now within her –
This Town Made Me.

Her creaky corners.

There are Eastern Europeans now behind the counter at Caffe Nero.
This town did not Make Them – but now they redefine her.

Wind still blusters in from the swept-up beach front.
Smells of seaweed and last year’s pooper-scoop campaign.

And This Town Made Me.

I walk her streets and though she permits my feet upon her roots,
She says:
You don’t belong here now
Even though I Made You
You have run to the farthest corners to escape me.
To shake me off unforgivably.

Shake off my incompetent pokey cafes,
My bad anoraks,
Bowling Alleys, Bingo Halls.
My small-mindedness.
You don’t want them anymore, so you seek out someone else.

Yet when you return to me, you feel that
‘This Town Made You’.

A Seaside Girl, accustomed to the gales that blow and the tide that is always high.

The slot-machines, fish-and-chip papers,
Scowling grumbles from old people who hobble.

The bad clubs in basements with sticky floors and gone-off beer.

This Place Made Me.

Bedford Row, with its friendly drug-dealers, house-fires and naked fun.
Days of drunken wild abandon.
Pretend jobs in pretend offices.

All of these things Made Me,
And I wouldn’t change them – but for the World.

Whose paths I must tread upon with cautious abandon.
It is the unknown and it does not know me.

Not like this Old Town, this familiar friend that I used to live with.
But one that cares not for me now, I am released to the tumultuous jungle.

But quietly, softly now, we speak in tongues unheard to one other.
We whisper on the wind when we say,
“This town, this town made you”

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