the sound crossing-point
East is east, and the first to cross the river
probably had ice under their feet. West is west,
and the sound-man was obliged to ferry people
over to the far side, from east to west,
and from west to east. People passing the thalweg
mid-river felt secure at having
solid ground under their feet on both shores.
For east is east, and west is west,
and we always hear the cry from
the far side.
When I look at the photograph of my father
sitting slightly sprawled out on a bench in the back garden
he grew up in, a place I often visit
so as to walk in the same streets, study the erect
frontages and stroll in the inlaid parks he used to play in,
it strikes me that the young boy with the mop of
blond hair and the bright eyes must have been a dreamer.
A stranger maybe in this neighbourhood where gangs
stood on every street corner ready to intervene
if anyone dared venture across invisible borders.
Borders that I do not know, but he perhaps
did. In the yellowing picture I have seen of him his
gaze betrays nothing of how streetwise he was.
On the contrary, he is looking towards something far off,
perhaps the kitchen window on the third floor, or Ekeberg Hill.
To look at the photo of my father from the time he was a paperboy
reminds me that he was the one who taught me
to cross the street diagonally, at full pelt towards the traffic.
This gave those driving in the next lane a bit more time
to brake, so as not to attack us from behind.