The Downtown Skateboarder’s Lament
5 January 2021

All his life he’s wished for streets like these,
clear of crowds and vehicles,
the downtown of his teenage dreams.
Right angles, steps, rails,
and endless grindable seams.
With patchwork pavements
that make his wheels sing in different keys.
On sidewalk slabs troubled by no soul,
made of asphalt, cement,
marble and stone.

But now he finds streets such,
he feels not celebratory,
instead an uncertainty nags
his subconscious much
like the persistent memory
of a dead loved one.
And he thinks of the
old song his mother sang him,
“If a body meet a body,
comin’ thro’ the rye…”
He never understood
what those words meant,
but they seem
to fit these times.

He saw a documentary
that said there were wolves
on the streets of Chernobyl.
And that raptors roost high
up on the balconies and nooks
of abandoned communist
era council blocks,
where they scour the surface
for food below.
And a skateboarder
is like a wolf, a sad beast
when on his own.

Now even his skateboard
makes a lonely sound,
as its clack-clack echoes
against the tall buildings
of downtown.
And he wonders,
is this the new normal?
The normal the wolves
of Chernobyl now know.
But at least they have
their company.
He is all alone.

Meanwhile this silence
makes him uneasy.
‘Cos he spends his
days worrying about
highly communicable
infectious diseases,
and thinking about
the wolves of Chernobyl,
atomic fallout and
nuclear breezes.