Maundy Thursday

by Simon Armitage

Right royally we’d screwed up,
           splashed out
                      on non-essential starches and yeasts,

spreed through a month’s wage
           one Wednesday night
                      till emptied pockets

hung loose and sad like donkeys’ ears.
           So we stooped low
                      at the fountain of dreams,

stole pounds and pence
           from tiled shallows,
                      coins bleached to a minted gleam,

money tossed by the moneyless
           fishing for money,
                      ground-bait scattered for love, hope,

reprieve from cancer and so forth.
           And such nickel and brass
                      was treasure enough

in the night-bus driver’s open palm:
           nursed, we were,
                      in the double-decker’s swaying cot,

incubated in amber light,
           rocked towards
                      morning’s lampwick

and narrow streets. Tipped out
           I stole home
                      through a back door,

wet feet wearing casts of cold,
           proper skint, flayed hands
                      mittened with chlorine’s taint.