I half-remember Hope Street

They came with suitcases like stones in their hands
weighted with adventure, prejudice and poverty,
tired of slogging around a city with doors slamming
in their faces. They could just see the river
between installments of buildings. There was music
and theatre and salvation behind every door.

Now our urgent young radical strays out in winter
with a cloth cap like an old man, the length of Hope Street
to the Everyman for a pint of real ale,
keeps that habit of staying out late, still stammering.
Some people and places run like arteries
and I like to think that Hope Streetís one of these.

I cannot picture the pier head, could not swear
the statue at Lewisís has any balls, I forget the taste
of sweat on the Cavern walls, but I can see
the Everyman now, losing the lights in its lettering,
in the shadow of a space ship ready for take-off
with its carousel of headlights, itís cargo of saints

(there are still those for whom religion
was a pulpit not a palace, who still shudder
at the workhouse bones they dug through.
They cannot speak without confusion
or answer to their names,
but they half-remember Hope Street all the same.)

Other roads tumble to the cityís rush and slurry,
but here my heart knows its geography:
basements full of poetry and, in the rooftops, music,
sometimes the tolling of a bell.
There are a thousand stories Iíve forgotten,
but I half-remember Hope Street fairly well.

By Clare Kirwan