the village shop that sold childhoods
the bacon slicer sang
to the gossip in the shop of
bread and welsh salt butter
sucked through the wrapping
by a boy who bit on the crust,
running home to mammy and daddy
the same boy who
drank owbridge’s cough medicine
beside every chilblain fireside of a
zinc bath winter. who grimaced down
thomas’s actos brand cough medicine, or
sucked chloridine lozenges that etherised
every tickly cough to an early death.
while back in the shop
the cold-room door clunked chrome locked,
hoar breath tight on the bacon flitch;
and sepulchred in white, denied every warm thought.
eyes winced as the cheese wire garrotted
a rind-round truckle of the summer herds.
ceiling to floor tinned with staple,
walls boxed with carbolic, lifeboy,
washing soda and flakes, dolly blue bags
for white shirts, their collars and cuffs.
then the door bell clangles
and one scarf leaves as the next
housewife tells of what’s for dinner
that the grey coated shopkeeper will add
to his pencilled list, and then add
one of these and one of those;
and so the story goes, and
the door goes, and
nobody, nobody knows
what the night will bring,
when the door bell no longer rings,
for the shop is shut lamplight tight;
and the shopkeeper shops alone.