The sound of everything folding into sleep,
A sense of being nowhere at all,
Set him on his way (traffic far off, and wind
In tall trees) to a back gate, a dark yard.
A path goes past the bins, the kitchen door,
Switches to a gravel walk by the windows
Lit softly above the privet hedge.
He stops and watches. He needs to see this:
A woman working late in the refectory,
Sewing a curtain, the lines of her face
Dropping into fatigue, severity, age,
The hair falling out of its clasp at her poll.
The hands are raised to thread the needle,
The tongue moves behind her lips.
He cannot see the feet or shoes, they are trapped
In toils of cloth. He is comforted.
He can move on, while the night combs out
Long rushing sounds into quiet,
On to the scene, the wide cafés
Trombone music over polished tables.
He will watch the faces behind the bar, tired girls,
Their muscles bracing under breakers of music
And the weight of their balancing trays, drinks, ice and change.