for Clare Flint

There were Harrys, looming, superior.
Kates with blue eyeliner and True Crime magazines.
There were Lukes, uncertain whether to cross the road,
Some biting their tongues accidentally,
Some having just purchased the wrong sized batteries.
Garys, in drag with mascara-tracked cheeks,
Consulting their reflections like maps in glass walls.
Donnas, their rituals nameless, strutting onto the pier.
Annabelles, their kites tangled in mid-air
Running way too fast towards one another.
Annabelles who collide like panicking dolphins.
Intoxicated Catherines reflected in pools of petrol.
Maries, quiet and helpful, like pastel sketches
Of bowls of eggs on fictional blue windowsills.
Geoffs of whom the world is not worthy.
Saskias with their mobile phones broadcasting
Watery toy music about disloyalty.
There were Davids, celebrated filmmakers,
Discovering their future leading ladies
And future wives – Annas – arguing with their boyfriends,
The tattooed, misunderstood Douglases, at the train station café.
Douglases who will one day see the Annas in films,
Recreating the same argument with their co-stars,
Andrews, similar-but-better-looking Douglases,
While backstage the Davids ask the Annas out to dinner.
Douglases who will read interviews with the Davids
Where they recount “discovering” the Annas,
Arguing with the Douglases in shiny station cafés and thinking,
‘There! That’s my new film, right there,
Arguing with her boyfriend!’ (Rachels pausing their dictaphones).
Douglases who will surely resent the verb “discover”,
Who spill some taka dall on their shirts as they lean forward,
Who yell, ‘You don’t discover a human fucking being!’ at
Richards with torn pockets who are by now sick
Of hearing about the Douglases’ problems.
Jonathans, who worry about their hair and their walks
Their jugulars like French jugs of water.
They look at you: ceramic, implacable Jonathans,
Who would say, if you asked, ‘We are all just jugs of things.’
Yes, balanced on the mantelpieces of world-weary Veronicas.
There were Hollys, thinking they just walked
Past that place they keep dreaming about, or it feels as though they do,
That setting of many dreams for the last eight years, that alley
With the upended paint can, the ladder, the …
But on closer inspection, nah. Beautiful, disappointed Hollys.
Matthews in blue blazers who also wake up
Unsure whether it was a recurring dream or
Whether they’ve just dreamed the whole history of the dream recurring.
Yvonnes, so many effulgent Yvonnes in the last light.
A sad zoetrope of Michaels, loping, trying not to take it personally.
When a wheel fell off the gurney and I went skittering
Into the abandoned optometrist I lost consciousness,
My final thoughts addressed to the directors, the Davids,
Why not a close-up on this red thread, to say it all?
Why not just a long close-up on this red thread?
Ten minutes later I awoke wanting to see my parents.
Your parents. The parents of anyone.