‘Was That Your Arse Sticking Out On Radcliffe and Maconie?’
quote from Martin Figura
At the corner of Radcliffe and Maconie,
where in winter, steam vents from the heating systems,
there was an arse projecting from an open manhole.
It hadn’t been there the previous night,
according to a street seller.
Perhaps it was a drunk, who wandered out from Joey’s,
took a turn at the corner, slipped, got wedged.
That wouldn’t explain where the cover had gone,
how anyone could fall in hands and feet first,
why the arse was uncovered.
A police-tape cordon stopped folk barging into it,
the thousands on their way to work,
but there was argument over jurisdiction,
which department should be charged with its removal,
whether it was a crime scene.
By mid-morning, the arse was looking cold,
a definite blue tinge to its pink cheeks.
Surprising nobody seemed curious of its provenance,
or even keen to check its gender; a simple matter
for a blue-gloved hand, or one of those robots.
At lunch, forensics and the fire service
stood, debating techniques of extraction.
Onlookers stood five deep. Up-State news crews,
leading on ‘The Broadwalk Butt’, asked if it might
be terrorism. An expert answered, ‘No, it’s an arse.’
When we came by again that evening, it was gone.
No tape, no microphones or cameras,
the manhole cover back; nothing to suggest an arse.
Commuters walked by and over the manhole,
heading for their sweet homes, their remotes.
copyright © 2015 Simon Williams.
First appeared in The Offbeat, Spring 2016