Ode to an urban day – Raymond Ward
The urban day has got her blue straw hat on
the one with the yellow rose in it
and her grey eyes beneath it
are cool and smiling.
Wherever the streets go
and there are people
her walk is leisurely:
in the early morning she sands in the shade
in the part at noon she will feed the pigeons
in the evening she will wave good-bye to us –
she is not working very hard today,
she is there to look pretty.
In her dove-grey dress
she is warm but not uncomfortable
and she is not dusty:
late last night she had a shower
and another this morning;
so her skin is fresh
and her breath sweet.
From time to time she pauses –
before shop windows and pools of ain
to admire her reflection,
then, smiling, strolls on.
She is lovely today
and she knows it:
she will stand at bus stops
and wait. Although the buses pull up
she remains where she is –
she does not mind when people stare
she does not think them indiscreet.
If one tries to take her photograph
for she is always changing
and no camera has a nose.
She does not belong to us.
We belong to her,
no matter what mood she is in.
But we must not ignore her –
to remain is not enough.
Evening is the time, if any, for departure
but today she does not wish to leave us
nor does she wish to see us leave:
she stands there in her faded blue straw hat
looking for the rose – which must have come untied
as if to say, would someone be so kind…?
then she begins to wander
in and out of doorways
from one street to the next…
but we have lost her now
grey as the corner she is huddled into
for the night,
still sweet, her fragrance lingers
in the pool of night rain
where the rose has fallen…
O'Sullivan, V. (Ed.). (1979). An anthology of twentieth century New Zealand poetry. Wellington: Oxford University Press.