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This poem was commissioned especially for Litro’s October 2012 “Ghosts” issue.
Each night, the voice miles
down the line was soft. It’s Keith I want.
Keith from Black Diamond Garages.
The broken clock, the lean-shadowed settee
and me. Sorry, there’s no-one here.
The only Keith I knew could run the mile.
He’d sprint out of the playing fields
come back wearing a crown of frost,
once with a gang of horses chasing him.
When they hung up, I’d take my walk
behind the house to where the village’s excuse
for woods becomes the backs of terraces.
The ground cut deep with tyre marks and there,
facing the trees, a row of moonlit cars,
their bonnets wide, like mouths in song
and him ducking between them
in his evening-coloured overalls,
his thin Alastian rising from her blanket
as I stopped, not close, but close enough
to see the small black diamonds of their teeth
his oil-spill hair, the way he looked at me.