AFTER MARKET DAY
A shadow steeple slants across the square.
Our children help the traders pack away
in pools of offal, slop, and rotten fruit,
with pigs in brisk attendance. Lucky stalls
stand high and dry among forgotten dead.
We watch the sunset stain cocoons of thatch;
Dan Smith, Will Tanner, Fletcher, Little Ned,
apothecary John, and twenty pubs
are closing shutters. Pedlars heft their bags
in hollow lanes which wander round the tofts.
A single lantern flickers by the stream;
a wooden bridge seems ready to collapse.
The moon is underwater, bubbles rise,
and grinning girls begin an early shift.
The prophet can't compete with them; he knows
that crackpot riddles never fill a bowl.
"Remember me, when wax gives way to gas,
when metal floats, and men have learnt to fly!"
Who cares about the next five hundred years?
My future's down the yard and up the stairs.
Simon Wood, Pocklington
"A robust Breughel of a poem, rich in colour and interest and beautifully crafted, it allows "the prophet"/ author to debunk both himself and the next five hundred years."