In a grey, worn out precinct

beneath an orange sky,

which misses four walls of windows

which recently towered,

between the pizza shop

and the shuttered supermarket,

there’s a cafe, and I

have agreed to cook.

Expect forty mouths.

In a soft lit house

not five minutes walk

from the grey, worn precinct

is a bedroom

and a bed

and a lump beneath the bedclothes

and beneath them, I

do not want to know any face

that I have not seen before,

not any face at all.

I’m here, indoors.

But, I’ve agreed to cook.

Expect eighty hands.

The hours of the day

have emptied the clock on the side

of deadlines and duties

but for this.

The soon descending winter sun

has sucked desire for any mission,

especially this, but I

have agreed to cook.

IN the Tesco’s not ten minutes drive

from the grey, worn out precinct,

ingredients have been bought.

Soon will come the call.

Head chef. I haul

myself out and over

to the grey, worn out precinct in the last of the sun.

Inside the cafe,

vegetables are being peeled

and chopped. Water

is being boiled.

I have agreed to cook

for forty people.

Expect eighty eyes.

Three Hundred and Twenty fingers

and eighty thumbs.

The hours canter by.

Will the rice be done?

The whole room is warm

and full, even before

it fills, which it does,

slowly, with people

I don’t know and people

I do know and people

with homes and people

without homes and people

with mouths and eyes

and fingers a nd thumbs,

and the whole room is even warmer.

Warmer than the kitchen.

By the time we’ve finished serving,

I sit and slip

seemlessly into conversation

about local shamanism

and it’s communal benefits, and then

the pros and cons of

luminous green motorcycle leathers

and then unfaithful wives

and football and all the time, food,

which I agreed to cook

for forty people

who are all here

in the same place

eating

and talking

and I feel warmer

and warmer. Warmer

than I ever was under

the warmest bedclothes.

This cafe in this grey worn out precinct

beneath a black sky

is a fire.

Skewer me.

Hoist me in.

Let me gladly melt within it.