Eighth Wonder by Beth Booth

Across the river there is another town,
with more buildings and paths that go to nothing
and people with faces like drunken moons
hung by somebody who doesn’t understand the sky.
Across the river there is another country,
another empty crosstown train that stops
to let nonexistent passengers alight.
Across this roaring abyss is a place I have not been yet,
waiting hands crossed across its chest of acres
and skyscrapers. Nondescript.

I sit in a foreign bus station and lay out a solitaire hand,
and of course we do not know yet why this is so difficult for me
but that difficulty is setting in like hands around my ankles.
I wish I could be underwater – could exist in the depth of that chasm
without boats and blue wrapping, could be part of whatever existed here once.
Only I am no different from any other body that comes through here,
with my pictures and my pitchy geography.
My cup of coffee condenses against its plastic lid.

We look out to land and imagine we are seeing greatness
in the greyness of disappointment.
Across the river there is another me, in some other time,
who didn’t come here with you and who is wearing another colour.
Across the river is another me who understands what it is
to stand under the hurtling water and feel full,
and whose heart has been
unbroken.

Beth Booth

Beth Booth is a musician and poet from Liverpool via Cumbria, and an MFA student at the Manchester Writing School. She won the Miriam Allott poetry prize in 2016 and Ink, Sweat and Tears pick of the month in 2020, and has had poems published in The Moth, Lighthouse, and Orbis. 

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