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Slab Chat

By: Judith Amanthis

About The Poem

I’ve lived on the same street in north Westminster for 45 years, so I often think about how its paving stones carry our compressed lives, quite a burden.

The Poem

Does it have surface tension? What’s
it like to be walked on? Is dog shit
warm for long? What about the workman’s
broken back? What was the lump hammer’s arc?
How are the others aligned so that none of its particular
jolts throw them all into chaos? Who
owns its years of leaf prints? Is the sand
scratchy? If it moaned at night or screamed
or cried or squeezed blood, would it be different
from the others? Will it crush a little girl?

I am I, you to you.
Here are my dimensions. I’m not
asking. My surface has absorbed pearly
spit, the half-life
of chewing gum, vomit, leaves, fag-ends
injured chips, shit
piss, oh piss, beer, sweet
sherry and cider, takeaways
the odd squashed haribo. My face
is faultless. I have no sanctions.
Consider my patience and please retract
your crushing question. You have
me guilty already. Instead, you could stop
squat, stare, lay
your ear, scrape, extrude your tongue
why not, smell. And then
imagine not calling on
the gods to heave an earthquake.

Sorry. Really. You think I think you’re guilty? I’m sorry
I’ve got feet. And I wear stilettoes. When I turned my ankle
you must have thought I thought it was your fault. Can
I not to be masochistic and also apologise? Flip
flops must be the worst, flap flapping on
your edges, water up trousers, or bears, but only if
you do void which I’m not saying you do. I mean
you do weeds. The refuse geezer leaves them in dead
piles after he’s hoed between you and the others
which must be really painful and although hobnail boots
are no longer, I’m just saying I understand
your history and I rarely walk in bare feet except
for putting out the rubbish or emptying drowned
molluscs into the gutter, so, honestly, I’m conscious of footfall.
I imagine the worst thing is to be overgrown, if not
now then at your passing.

The minimum recommended falls
are one eighty longitudinal
and one forty transverse. There are
exceptions. Did you say something?

Ok . So I’ll continue. With the fear
That opens up the void I cannot reach
And throws my weight against a knee, a smeared
And bloody bone ballooning purple flesh
Or if my edge to edge existence slips
And sneers, a lip arising from my face
In combat with a big toe, a sliver of slim
Shin, then I fear the more the rain
That whets my appetite for revenge upon
Those soles whose tread is cruelly polished leather.
No hosed-down skid pad cares for worn
Soles. So should I not either? If my measure
Of a gunshot or blade thud were my mere terror
Of the breach that splits me from my seismic others?



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