The Leash

We walk these streets believing we are free.
We take our roast-beef rolls with beer
and sun ourselves in Little Tichfield Street
as if there were no questions to be answered.
Love, its message half-unheard in the rhythm
of a ground-bass beating intermittently
among the chatter and the jostle, binds.
And at such moments one could be forgiven
for supposing London's teeming lunchtime air
was freely ours - not bought or fought for,
not constricted, driven by the chartered laws of property,
but unconditional and open,
there to move through, in and out, at will.

Yet all the time, containing us, the abstracts
are at work that keep us all on leash.

Christopher Hampton

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