At four a.m. the last thing you think about
is love. You have two or three hours before
the sun drags you into its sweaty bearhug,
but you're getting a head start on the strain.
Self-inflicted violence with a toothbrush
knocks some sense into you. Yesterday's coffee
straight from the pot, is sour and greasy,
exactly what you deserve. The shower is less kind,
strips the numbness from your body so you feel
the cold more deeply. Means you are alive.
Means the crisp shiver of cotton on damp skin,
pores flaring and hair slicked back, is almost comfort.
Still pitch dark at 5 a.m. Across the street,
all the corridor lights are switched on
but no one's there to use them. Your footsteps
echo in the hollow air as if they matter.
The lift pushes itself to life and up, fluorescent
and gaping for work. For twenty seconds
the world could end and you'd be the last
to find out. At least you're not to blame.
When you're let out on the empty street, at least there's
destination to your practiced gait, outstretched hand,
taxi to curbside in a wash of gravel,
breath and power enough to start the day.
29 August 2001 13:33 hours