The Transcriber

I am stuck halfway across the bridge in Prizren –
a town I've never visited. 
The lowest layer of the cassette is always the hiss,
and radio telescopes tell us that this noise
is inescapable as it is the sound
of the heat from the birth of the universe
from which we are all refugees.

The smoke was like a chalk drawing at a distance,
then it was like steam off a hot spring.

I want to catch every word –
about stowing away, dehydration,
that is to say the fear to drink,
all the way back to the bridge,
where I am trapped, in Prizren.
I recall how you wept, but it sounds
different now, second hand.
I listen through the noise of a café.

I drank from the Shadervan,
and this means –

We made each conversation into a free meal.
Cups clash, coffee grounds are tapped out,
machines captured making froth
are like accelerating steam engines.
I am still on the bridge as they pull away,
as friends laugh and call for the music
to be turned up, ask the waiter
for more house red.

I drank from the Shadervan,
and this means I am sure to return.

I listen for the quiet sound of a man
being dragged by a length of blue rope.
I recall the conversation, know the words
I should be hearing as I watch the road,
rewinding, reeling it back, straining again.
In your old life you were a teacher.
The hiss of the universe is inescapable.
In the restaurant nobody turns to look.

Tom Kelly

Andrew Wells