4 Kirkley Road


You are going away like life, you giant who were
close friend to the family for the last five years.
You have stood your ground and ours. A character
our days and ways have most depended on,
you heard our story. Now with deafened ears,
unknowing eyes and face shut down, you wait
for us (your life) to leave you.
When we have gone,
if you can be with others as you were
with us – then we would gladly celebrate
the march of others going through our gate.


First on the highest
hideous maze
of water-pipes, prams
I raise the trapdoor;
memories of sluttish
dust and a black fog
under the roof
where I crawled on struts;
below it the bathroom,
bath-sprawl, seat-crouch
here I solved in steam
the world’s main problems
and saw the future;
here I taught the teeth
of two to like toothpaste;
and the purple and white
light decor throughout
traced on by my wife
has a hold on my heart;
then the small back bedroom,
the urine-whiff carpet,
the family cot, and
a good wood airing-cupboard;
the narrow landing blocked
by the bookcase piled
with magazines bumped round
in my night-journeying;
the middle bedroom, claimed
by a self-formulation:
the comics, books, jigsaws
of a seven-year-old’s own hours –
how often have you huddled
at 8 a.m. with comics? –
and our own bedroom, bleak
and wide, in a vista
of drawers, paper, wardrobes
and a fluorescent light;
yet rippling with tranquillity
in an afternoon;
and the stairs I taxi-served,
boys upon back;
the hall where the same
played football, or stair-jumped,
and one climbed the walls;
our front room, books
and a fine carpet, hours
of absent-from-the-children
were envisaged there;
yet here we spent our evenings,
jailed in the yellow
of the back room, toys
and tables, piano
and shoes, slippers, sideboard;
this was our home;
then our long kitchen,
the hammering out of sustenance,
the honing of fine fare,
the hell-heat of the stove
and the ice-lollies fridge;
and here as elsewhere
the heart-relieving haven
of your well-chosen wallpaper
you well laid on.
And then the garden.


Already broken where the swing came out,
a ragged clout of land, where by the shed
an idle-moment deckchair would turn out
to intercept the final note of sun.
That green is gone
the sun poured on the garden: and the butterflies
red orange yellow flower-bedding the edge
are of the past. A minor sensuous forest,
creepers and trailers, a horde of shrubs, small trees,
has been snapped shut for us just like a book.
My garden-wife, it was a book you wrote.
It made good reading.

Share away: