I’m back in the university library – twenty one years later. Under the great, white bowl from the days when they thought knowledge warranted a sober palace. Everything is scrolled and flickering like an old cine film. A sniff ricochets in the dome.
Over there, three radiating desks away, she’s sitting in a mist of adrenaline and tears. I know the notes under her palms. I know the self-circling poems spiralling down the margins. I know she wonders if she has a right to be here.
I could offer her a tissue. I could stroke her hair and take her to the union for a baked potato. But she has to hiccup through her time. She has to fuck up and sit up all night to meet a deadline. She has to strike a match to light the dodgy gas fire – and wait for warmer days.