Old World Light

Right on schedule, one century behind 
The little bird on William Wordsworth’s cuckoo clock 
Emerged from Time Itself, a home, to cuckoo. 
Even at midnight

You could clearly hear noon. And yet not even
In sunny Grasmere did any light come free, 
Each homely chunk of coal was a commodity 
Time Itself paid for;

Sufficient unto the night were the miners below. 
Together underground William and Dorothy go — 
They who paid a Light Tax on their ninth window. 
No place like home, though.

The benches fly backwards, the newspaper readers, 
As if they’d always been left behind so far 
And what they were reading no one remembers, 
Wheezing old men pulled

Straight into Nothingness which is not yet filled— 
New islands of light in the Tube pounding past us, 
People on platforms, years of practice, stare where 
Our train is no more

So why do we care when the door accordions open 
To some total stranger’s paradise without us? 
The angels of our century are hideous, 
Brushing against us