Maundy Thursday

By Simon Armitage

Right royally we’d screwed up,
splashed out
on non-essential starches and yeasts,

spreed through a month’s wage
one Wednesday night
till emptied pockets

hung loose and sad like donkeys’ ears.
So we stooped low
at the fountain of dreams,

stole pounds and pence
from tiled shallows,
coins bleached to a minted gleam,

money tossed by the moneyless
fishing for money,
ground-bait scattered for love, hope,

reprieve from cancer and so forth.
And such nickel and brass
was treasure enough

in the night-bus driver’s open palm:
nursed, we were,
in the double-decker’s swaying cot,

incubated in amber light,
rocked towards
morning’s lampwick

and narrow streets. Tipped out
I stole home
through a back door,

wet feet wearing casts of cold,
proper skint, flayed hands
mittened with chlorine’s taint.

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