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She is our lady of the nameless metals, of things

No hand has made, and no machine Has cut to a nicety that takes the mark

Of clean intention—at best, the guardian Of all that our daily contact stales and fades.

Rusty cages and lampless lampshades. Perhaps those who have climbed into their towers

Will eye it all differently, the city spread In unforeseen configurations, and living with this.

Will find that civility I can only miss—and yet It will need more than talk and trees

To coax a style from these disparities. The needle-point’s swaying reminder

Teeters: I go with uncongealing traffic now Out onto the cantilevered road, window on window

Sucked backwards at the level of my wheels. Is it patience or anger most renders the will keen?

This is a daily discontent. This is the way in.

NIGHT RIDE

The lamps are on: terrestrial galaxies.

Fixed stars and moving. How many lights. How many lives there are, cramped in beside

This swathe of roadway. And its sodium circuits Have ousted the glimmer of a thousand hearths

To the margins of estates whose windows Blaze over pastoral parentheses. Scatterings

Trace out the contours of heights unseen. Drip pendants across their slopes.

Too many of us are edging behind each other With dipped beams down the shining wet.

Our lights seem more beautiful than our lives In the pulse and grip of this city with neither

Time nor space in which to define Itself, its style, as each one feels

His way among the catseyes and glittering asterisks And home on home reverberates our wheels.

CHARLES TOMLINSON

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