Cliff Yates




He Takes Off his Hat and Steps

He takes off his hat and steps off the train,
looks up at the sky, puts his watch back an hour.
He reckons one day he’ll be buried at sea.
His suit’s wet through, he’s been swimming again.

He buys a paper, leaves the change on the counter,
picks up the morning then puts it back down.
The sea’s a coin under an open sky
it’s always like this at the end of September.

Every morning we start over again,
come round quietly, make up the bed,
before it gets dark put the clocks back an hour
and in the morning put them forward again.

You don’t need papers for the open sea,
you don’t need a ticket for where we’re going.
A box and a prayer, a flag and salt water,
our hats on our laps we’ll sleep on the train.



Cliff Yates’ new pamphlet is Bike, Rain (Knives Forks and Spoons) from which this poem is taken. Previous collections include Henry’s Clock (Smith/Doorstop) and Frank Freeman’s Dancing School (Salt). This is his website.

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