Porter Brook

Sheffield’s a new country, liberated from its grime and industry, its smoke and smelters and factories, the rule of steel. The old cutlery works house flats like ours, patched with red brick. The council builds fountains. A mill wheel once churned beneath our window. The lads who fix the boiler say they fished here. Ducks swoop in and perch on rusted cans in the shallows. The river swills plastic. It was named, we hear, for its colour, brown. In town, pigeons wrangle chunks of sausage. The buskers are out, and the socialists tend their tables of flapping newspapers. On the tram, a girl’s eyes sweep side to side. Do you work, cock? she asks me. Do you work?

Paula Morris