matt's notebook

On Westminster Bridge

The Thames wears a khaki shirt
with red bridge braid to beat some Kokstad
who, unknown to you, smuggled cocaine.
Detained, deported, dead.

Tugela River, who are you?
You who makes his heart a reed.
You who bears his body to the fields.
You who wears a nervous look.
Make like the open water.

The Thames wears black polyester track pants,
waxes hair back into a shine,
cuts its own sweet 4 a.m line,
calls a mini-cab.

All bright and glittering in the smoked up room.
A sight so touching, so beautiful,
never saw, never felt so deep

Tugela River, who are you?
You who makes his heart a reed.
You who bears his body to the fields.
You who wears a nervous look.
Make like the open water.

Matthew John Williams
2000, revised 2004, 2011, 2021


Rather arrogantly, this is a rewrite of Wordsworth's sonnet Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802:

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!