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The Spike [or Victoria University College Review 1961]

Passing a City House

page 69

Passing a City House

Just Now it seems a disguised flamingo,
Scuttling on hen's legs into the street;
It has the haunting persistence of a fairy tale
Transposed (a house with iron spiked teeth).

Is it Baba Yaga in town this evening?
Patterning shadows on the fading sea
In shapes of helmets, for these newcomers
To watch from lighted windows the continuity?

The gramophone, with excited foreign cries,
Peoples the street with friends, benevolence;
And you hear discarded wine bottles from the Armada
Clink down the centuries in pockets of silence.

Yet if these Spaniards, these guardians of the Camargue
(Their horses snatching at the trellised roses)
Were suddenly to emerge, laughing, unsteady,
Into the alley by the green painted window boxes,

Or appear, framed by the blowing curtains,
Or thrown in shadow on the footpath's face,
You would be disappointed, and ignore the street;
The mystery gone, the house is commonplace.

Kirsty Northcote-Bade