I've reached that age where I figure I may as well just eat what I want; and what I want more than anything is silence, so I roll up my bags and head to where the department stores used to be. These days the buildings are nothing but metaphors – a jewelled box of forgotten names; a snow globe of receipts and naked mannequins; the sculpted breath from a child’s burst balloon – and all their doors are sealed lips. The pavement cracks like walnut shells, the weather is wind chimes and gongs, and an automaton in a Red Cross bib is handing out empty plates to moon-mugged lovers, alone and palely loitering by the racks of electric scooters. Everything hums, from molecules to mountains and memories of meals eaten in front of a rented TV. Everything hums, and stores are reduced to naked figures and sealed doors. I've reached that space where pavements are racks of electric dolls and their aged lovers, where life is rented in rolled-up bags, where silence is nothing but metaphors – a burnt meal in an abandoned oven; a shell held between pursed lips – and everything – everything – hums.
Oz Hardwick has published nine collections, including Learning to Have Lost (2018), which won the 2019 Rubery International Book Award for poetry, and, most recently, Wolf Planet (2020). He has also edited several anthologies, including The Valley Press Anthology of Prose Poetry (2019) with Anne Caldwell. Oz is Professor of English at Leeds Trinity University, where he leads the postgraduate Creative Writing programmes.