Do You Know, Or Do Know Yourself?

I know the woman who sits on the groyne and watches the sea overlap the concrete, 
Who walks the pebbles for mermaid’s purses, who smiles into the wind.
I know the little boy who chases seagulls with only fish and chips on his mind.
I know the man with the metal detector is thinking of raspberry ripple with a flake.
I know the seafood is not so local.
I know where makes a decent roast and where to buy the best cake.

I know the quietest park, the prettiest park, and the park with the happiest children.
I know where to feed the squirrels.
I know where the mating pigeons sleep.
I know those with love. 

I know those in love.
I know the official, unofficial, and still call themselves single.
I know the sweaty, tight-clasped hands, arms around waists, public displays of affection and the turn away of a face. 
I know the couple whose latest addition to the family has four legs. 

I know the dogs that pad the pavement: Dachshund, Dachshund, Dachshund, Miniature Dachshund. Seriously, why so many sausage dogs?
And I know the Cocker Spaniel, the Cockerpoo and the cock-your-leg-and-sniff-your-bum-how-do-y’do?
I know how hard it must be to have Alfie in the pram and Oscar on the lead while your partner takes selfies,
Do you know, I know the babbas in slings, the tots in buggies, the tikes on scooters, 
I know the kids in shades on their bikes slouching low or with no seat at all 
And I know the French kids, and the Spanish kids and the Dutch kids and the German kids cramming the streets and the MackyD’s with maps with blanked-out gaps for them to exercise their English.
I know the singular young men who sit in Jubilee Library wrapping their mouths around strange English vowels, and the silent mums who check out children’s books to read to themselves.
I know they are lonely. 
I know they are not alone.

I know where the NCT mums meet for coffee, 
I know where the old ladies eat,
I know how much it costs to take high tea at the Ivy.
I know that Churchill Square is a clone-plan shopping mall.
I know many people can’t afford The Lanes, 
I know hen nights and stag dos don’t belong to you,
I know how it feels to have a stranger scream in your ear,
I know what it’s like to not want to walk out in the dark,
I know what the back alleys smell of,
I know men who lean inside telephone boxes, convulsing with their sleeves rolled up.
I know the tents.  
I know you know the answer to ‘do you have any spare change?’

I know the YMCA, the Women’s Centre, the Children’s Centres, the Sanctuary on Sea,
I know the Gurdwaras travel down to feed the hungry,
I know the churches that shut their doors after service on Sunday,
I know the vans that pass psalms out with hot food,
I know how to avert my eyes when I’m not in the mood.
And I know, I know there’s no god, but that’s just me,
I’m the kind that goes around hugging trees,
Yet there’s a goddess who gnaws this shore, who eats men and spits glass,
Who we piss, pollute and hide our evidence in. She can turn on us. 
I know the woman who sits on the groyne and watches the sea overlap the concrete, 
Who walks the pebbles for mermaid’s purses, who smiles into the wind. 
I know that as she walks home she can pass thousands of faces, and says nothing to no one.  

I know your streets, every twisty little lane.
I know your people, Brighton, but I don’t know their names,
Do you know? Or do you know yourself?

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