It’s not so far downstream of what we wanted.
Adjacent hospital, adjacent primary,
adjacent lawns, and lawns, and lawns
and the foundry smoke obligingly discrete
behind transplant maples, the city’s courtesy
always coming downwind.

Under the cretinism the brochures are wise.
Never think of the neighbourhood
you’ve been crowded from, they whisper.
Then you’d have to think of everyone
who’d love a chance to love this wallpaper.
The agent’s freshly laundered shirt
is the colour of foreign investment. Or just jealousy.
Your needs, he says, are ordinary
and therefore beyond reproach. You’ve worked for this.
My face appears in someone else’s kitchen window
half-obscuring the tiled magnet
Dance like no one is

In the canal beside the highway
two of them are swimming with the current.
We move to the slow lane to watch
their flat tails kite under reflected clouds.
One of them drags reeds for a lodge.
They must have lost a better place to come here.
                                                                  Maybe not.
Maybe the water’s cleaner than we thought.
Then, some way back, a third appears,
heading amiably in the same direction,
as if to join the others. One of us, probably me,
chirps about subversions of the couple-form in nature
but what I’m really thinking of is pressure.
The swollen lanes disgorge behind us.
The priced-out friend will still be on your couch
six months later.

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