Two poems by Steven Rogers

 

Through the Aylesbury Estate
I’m on my bike cycling through
three twelve storeys set out in two lines
a concrete kilometer corridor
with damp patches of rain on high beige balconies with walkways
dripping with flags and sagged netting protecting their kids bikes
a driven westerly blows and the high flats
act like huge sails
channelling the wind north towards
the Old Kent Road
me, small fish
bilge pushing south against the windward
slow tacking along the scars in the road
legs fatigued over the hummocked and faded zebra
avoiding potholes and sunk tarmac yawns
swerving vans who curse at me
past the caged basketball court
and I remember the exposed rebar on the high walkway
just beyond where I once helped paint
the community nursery
where I was told the mums
take smack in the toilets
I am passing through. I am middled.
I have panniers and a bell on my bicycle.

 

Eels
That afternoon my brother was trying
to catch eels in the creek with his lime green bucket
I was sat very still, the warmth from the stone bridge against my bare legs.
On the opposite bank, where the grass hung like a fringe
a man had set up his easel.
I was picking lichen from the creases in the stone
dropping it into the frothing tide
when my brother shouts
Yeah! Get in there you fucker! Gotchya!
And yeah. He’d got it. He’d got it!
We ran back, wellies fallumping,
to the white wooden house stilted into the hill
where we presented to them the sleek black eel
seeking the edges of the lime green plastic bucket.
They were drinking homemade pea wine and
Grandad ‘Noodge’ said all eels were born in the Sargaso Sea
and he let us taste the wine and it didn’t taste of peas
just sweet and peppery and mum said
we should take the eel back to the creek. Where it belongs.
It slipped silently from the clear water of the bucket.
The man with his easel had gone
and I wondered if there might be in his frame a small boy in shorts
and wellies carrying a bucket and another
much smaller boy sat just there, on that bridge.

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