Denise Levertov

24 October 1923 – 20 December 1997 / Ilford, Essex

People At Night

A night that cuts between you and you
and you and you and you
and me : jostles us apart, a man elbowing
through a crowd.       & nbsp;  We won't
      &nbs p;       &nbsp ;     look for each other, either-
wander off, each alone, not looking
in the slow crowd. Among sideshows
               & nbsp;     under movie signs,
      &nb sp;       &nbs p;     pictures made of a million lights,
      &n bsp;       &nb sp;     giants that move and again move
      &nbsp ;              again, above a cloud of thick smells,
      &n bsp;       &nb sp;     franks, roasted nutmeats-

Or going up to some apartment, yours
      &nbs p;       &nbsp ;     or yours, finding
someone sitting in the dark:
who is it really? So you switch the
light on to see: you know the name but
who is it ?
       &n bsp;  But you won't see.

The fluorescent light flickers sullenly, a
pause. But you command. It grabs
each face and holds it up
by the hair for you, mask after mask.
      &nbs p;       &nbsp ;     You  &nb sp;and   you and I   repeat
   &n bsp;       &nb sp;       &nbs p;gestures that make do when speech
      &nb sp;       &nbs p;     has failed       & nbsp;  and talk
      &nbsp ;              and talk, laughing, saying
      &nb sp;       &nbs p;     'I', and 'I',
meaning 'Anybody'.
     &nbsp ;                 & nbsp;       No one.
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