To Joan Eardley

Pale yellow letters
humbly straggling across
the once brilliant red
of a broken shop-face
and a blur of children
at their games, passing,
gazing as they pass
at the blur of sweets
in the dingy, cosy
Rottenrow window –
an Eardley on my wall.
Such rags and streaks
that master us! –
that fix what the pick
and bulldozer have crumbled
to a dingier dust,
the living blur
fiercely guarding
energy that has vanished,
cries filling still
the unechoing close!
I wandered by the rubble
and the house left standing
kept a chill, dying life
in their islands of stone.
no window opened
as the coal cart rolled
and the coalman’s call
fell coldly to the ground.
But the shrill children
jump on my wall.

Edwin Morgan