You Can Meet Me After Midnight

A London bus makes its way along Fleet Street in heavy smog in December of 1952. Photo by Edward Miller.

You can meet me after midnight, and I’ll not explain the rain, but if you meet after midnight, nothing else will be the same. They will take away your joy, they will take away your sorrow, if you don’t meet me after midnight your dreams will all lay fallow. You take a bus to get here, and it burns shadows in its tank, and if you’re gonna meet me, don’t forget to tell the driver ‘thanks.’ He’s a spiteful old clanker, and his heart is full of gears, but he’ll get you where you’re going, my darling, don’t you never fear.

Just meet me after midnight.

Meet me after midnight, at the station by the docks, and keep a careful eye because you’re stepping off the clocks. Turn your coat inside out and fill your pockets full of rocks. Make sure that some of them are heavy, make some of them are small. Make sure when you’re walking quickly to keep your hand upon the wall.

So you don’t get lost.

Don’t never look behind you, don’t glance the way you’ve come, the spirits here are jealous and they think you’re the one. Hurry to me fast, my love, down alley, hill and dale. Make sure you come alone, my love, and choose the road that’s pale. Your only torch is moonlight, your only compass is my heartbeat, whatever you do don’t turn around or you’ll get more than just their teeth.

To meet me after midnight.

Scatter iron dust behind you, and step quickly, don’t you run, because walking after midnight isn’t just for fun. I can feel they’re right behind you, and I’ll be praying for safe passage, but I’ve spent all my hearts in offerings, and I couldn’t afford a carriage. Be safe, my heart, and fleet, for I can hear them scuttle and I can hear them creep. It’s a dangerous road you’re walking, to the bus stop at the end of the lane, but if you get here safely, then here you can remain. With me always after midnight, turning slowly on a dime, where time has lost its meaning and clockmaking is a crime.

Can you see the glow ahead, my love, can you see the lamplight burning? In that case, you’re almost here, and I’ll let the world keep turning. For one more dance, I suppose, just for one more turn. Can you reach the bus, my love? Then you’ve one more thing to learn.

Keep your feet fleet and narrow, keep your eyes upon the road, don’t go kissing any princes, don’t go kissing any toads. Reach deep into your pocket, and find a moment of made of smiles that have been pressed between your fingers and shaped over the miles. Round its edges well, and press its sides down flat, and you’ll find you’re made a coin, my love, and on it there’s a rat.

Don’t let his visage frighten you, you’re not marked for his teeth, he’s just a token of my love and his time with you is brief. Drop him in the token box, as you climb aboard the bus, and empty out your pockets of iron bits and rocks. The rat he is my token, and he’s better than a ring, because having him brings you to me, for I’ll tell you I’m their king.

If you meet me after midnight, we can turn forever you and I, and if you come and rule with me, you’ll never have to cry.

Unless you want to, then I’ll help, I’ll use my teeth sharp and keen, for I’ll deny you nothing, nothing at all if you’re my queen.