The air in Liverpool

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The chill, the smell of the air:
it stays with you. It doesn’t smell like this
anywhere else in the world, but here.
And it clings to your clothes, your hair.
If you’re here long enough, it seeps
into your skin, pools in the blood,
climbs into your bones and settles in.

It never leaves: this pungent scent
of seawater and salt. It mixes with the mud
and blood-red of brick and iron,
dissolves with the damp and heavy exhalations
of dock workers, their corrugated hands betraying
an eternity of work and worry.
— Their skin and sweat is here, too;
it paints this sombre city’s walls.
The rain washes them into puddles,
drains them into uneven streets,
Pulls them back into a mighty river
that holds them, that won’t let them go.
Keeps their scent close.

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