snit my house
in a mind that still wanders
through the rooms of my childhood,
even under the stairs of the coal store
that housed the house.
in that stone terraced cottage,
that “slum dwelling”
in the words of a council report.
the kitchen, the back kitchen, the scullery.
my cold watered, no heating childhood
of the bath in front of the coal fire, filled
from the gas boiler in the scullery.
that warm-radioed room where the bath
sat on the mat of my infant reader,
and where a warm-towelled mum sought
no tide marks, god forbid!
where friday night was armarmi night.
how the coal-gritted mat annoyed,
and the gravel-warted soap grated.
even the ducks three on the wallpapered
sky, flew in a halted dawn.
where the mantled clock chimed of
westminster and the fire died down the days,
above the wood-panelled lower walls,
where the black pads hid their midnight feast.
tip toe through the rooms of my childhood.
the hush china parlour, antimacassar armchairs,
thick curtains and no air. no room at all really.
along the archeological passage of gloomy fuse boxes
a red runner rug and a light switch.
and the green door. always green on the outside
cream on the inside. a four leafed clover.
no air in the sarcophagus. a gold mask on
the sideboard dining room filled by a table and chairs;
and the watching coal fire. a seance of sitting
between the draft of the stairs and the branding iron.
the rented television saying nothing,
nothing about the rooms of my childhood.
upstairs slept in a sunbeam of dust.
downstairs crept a day older
as the ghosts of mum, dad and child
the rooms that grew smaller and smaller
with my childhood.
the dot on the television screen
the end of the days.