Sitting in Waterstones

Caught between then and now,

Caught between then and now,
deep in memory’s trap,
Autumn-like, morning mists,
brought to my open door,
the scent of wool.

That smell belongs to childhood,
drifting with the smoke
of mill chimneys.
For over six hundred years,
the heart of the city was wool.
Wool was the pulse of it,
the beat of it.

From every part of the world
came bales of wool.
Sorted; scoured; carded;
combed; spun; woven;
dyed; finished.
A litany of process,
to produce material, fit for a king.
But that was then.

Now I sit ibn the old Wool Exchange:
that hub of activity,
where plump, prosperous, wool men
met, to buy and sell.
But that was then.
The Wool Exchange is gone,
the pulse of wool, now faint and thready.

Books fill the space where once,
those cocksure men bargained.
And the scent drifting down
is of coffee.
And the sound, that of quiet music.