I am timing the Fire Doors for something to do;
They swing alarmingly! Since the Management reduced
Our use of electricity I walk the corridors
Trailing my fingertips the length of the wall.
I think of adjectives to sum this building up:
Warrenous, respectable, and windowless. When you
Talk to me I watch the movement of your lungs, the ripple
Of the fibres of your mohair pullover.
The mannerisms of our six close friends become
As obvious as eyes: they fidget and tick like clocks.
You study their hands, their irritable hands. And I, I
Make a note of everything you say and do.
The time you spend on make-up is a blessing – your
Dead white cheeks are as good as light and heat to guide me
Down the corridors! Concrete dust is rising from the floors
Like fire; when it reaches the lips it mixes
With our exhalations. Temporarily, I
Believe in ghosts. Don’t tell me that you don’t! Yesterday
Your drawing-pad was open at a charcoal face, wincing
With a silly grin for want of oxygen.