A LOST FRIEND

I saw you last night, friend.
(How long’s it been? Months?
And what ossified, what paralysed continents
Has your mind traversed in that time?)
You were after fags, and I had fifty pence.
I saw your eyes: sharpened to splinters in a frosting blue,
Scouring my face with the frightful, super-acuity
Of one who has been made blind.

I took you in my arms.
Because you looked vulnerable, I think;
And your body was like a broken bird’s.

There, laid bare, was the mechanism
Of what one calls a mind:
Letting in the rain – beneath the canvas of what we term
Humanity, a personhood – the cogs, salted and rusting.
And I think: How thin the sheet is, how quickly
The skin is frayed and worn away, tattered like tarpaulin.
I think… This is someone I care for, reduced to a machine,
A faulty machine.
Where does that leave the rest of humankind?

Stephen Jackson

Autumn 2003

A LOST FRIEND

Stephen Jackson

London, United Kingdom

  • Artist
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Artist's Description

A poem for the Hackney friend I bumped into one Christmas night, as she wandered alone on Wells Street.

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