At Kala Sangam in Bradford
late Sunday afternoon, one singer
sits on a hard chair waiting for the other
to take the stage, tune her guitar to
the required key before saying, “Hello
Ladies and Gentlemen.” There are
moments, in a life, that linger.
These two beloved women
stand on linoleum and talk
only briefly, about the songs maybe,
how they endure against the grain
of progress, how they stand up and fight
against the worst, the forever fascists,
time after time.
The folk singer’s eyes, alive with your
knowledge, as if you’d ridden trains together,
danced every reel, drank black coffee
in Buffalo, Oklahoma City, Oxford.
If you could, you’d link arms, climb
up the hill, to the Shish Mahal, break
the family bread.
As the room empties, the chairs scraped
away, there are goodbyes, the gentle touching
of soft hands. You turn and walk across
the room, smiling a secret never known.
At this exact moment, I knew it wasn’t the first
time I’d seen your face, but understanding
its beauty like never before.