Wayne Price, ‘Watching the Menders’


Behind their George Street window,

ignoring the shoppers who all day

search for something new, the two

Lebanese tailors mend, bowed

at their benches, at their chattering

machines. Watching them, waiting again

for you, I could persuade myself

that watchers and watched all work

the same taut threads – between fingers,

on pavements like this, on the pillows

of beds; so many invisible menders

of clothes that never fit or show


and anyway always tear. None of it

helps at all. I know that you, late again,

will soon not bother with these afternoons.

Everything happens once. You are

someone else; somewhere new.

For another last time I crane my neck

and one of the tailors lifts his head, turns

as if to meet my stare. His face is blank

behind the glass. The traffic crawls;

shoppers process like fish in a bowl. Both

emperor and boy in the tale were right,

dressed in their lonely question of what

nothing might be; how best to greet it.

Wayne Price was born in South Wales but now lectures in literature and creative writing at the University of Aberdeen. His poems and short stories have appeared widely, winning a variety of prizes, and his short story collection Furnace was published by Freight Books in 2012.


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