My Lost Liverpool Loves

My Lost Liverpool Loves

my first cafetiere – watching
strong priestly hands pulsing the plunger
down into the rich, brown ferment under its shiny dome,
releasing sweet aromas, his cassock asway
after an afternoon spent climbing the sandstone tower
with its damp scent of almost-cold, my fingertips
touching the hugest and heaviest bells in the land.

my first poets – and all of them
called Adrian - holding hands with Adrian, walking the firm
grooves of the sand to Hilbre Island, and running
quickly back on the slick sand. Another Adrian
applauded in every audience I was in at the Bluecoat
and Adrian, the hairdresser, patiently bleached each separate
strand of my hair, an individually-named, amazing shade of blonde.

my first unquenchable taste of Eastern Europe
when perestroika came in the 80s to St George’s Hall,
its vast mouth an open ‘yes’ to Ronald Reagan’s call
for a rock musician from, say, Leningrad to play in, say, Liverpool.
So Sergei Kuriokhin’s crazed stage show stole my heart up and away
to the dark-light North, all the Adrians and I danced
until even our sweat sweated, knowing the world would be as one.

first urban regeneration, Heseltine’s lion mane
agleam -his answer to Toxteth’s petrol bombs and paving stones –
gardens and Albert Dock so new, it confused us on the boat
from Birkenhead, its careful water partitioned into dark channels,
cafes selling baked potatoes and carrot cake, Slavery confined
to the third floor between Archives and ‘Art and the Sea’
and the Tate so clean and grand and incomprehensible

my youth, too, of course, gone like the merchant ships
and my sailor father to the four corners of the globe - everyone
I meet in America has an ancestor who stayed a night or two in Liverpool,
passing through like the ghosts of Hillsborough, untouched by time
in my dreams, taking the ferries cross the Mersey for eternity,
two cormorants flying alongside carrying seaweed to the zoo of the new,
while my memories ebb out into Liverpool Bay, fade away on the waves.

By Victoria Field