I pause at the window to watch the rain
falling loudly, alarmingly,
as if a small monsoon had lost its way
and wandered into England by mistake.
It falls not in drops but columns.
Coming down in stairrods, I hear myself say.
And now I find myself a long time ago.
I am on stairs, with my knees,
bare below boyish shorts,
pressed on the woven carpet.
Stooped, I savour the stairrod that
I have taken from its brass retainer
to feel the smoothness
of the brown-gold metal,
and the weight of it across my palm.
Across the hall, another brass rod
holds up a drape that falls the full length of a door.
It is to keep draughts out of the parlour,
where the piano and best china are kept,
and where we sit, so politely, on Sundays.
The grandfather clock,
on the landing above,
sounds the hour, slowly.
Each chime drops past me,
falling to its death noiselessly
on the thick drapes and carpets.
The past, then, was a track
that fell away behind my back, unnoticed;
and the future made neither threats, nor promises,
beyond the smell of thyme stuffing from the kitchen
and the hope we might walk to the beach next day.
It is still there, my auntie’s house,
with the stairrods and the chiming clock.
Time’s soft yet ceaseless rains
have made a lake above it.
Now I see it only dimly, when conditions are right,
far down on the lakebed, silent and still,
and much too deep for me to go.
|A poem that grew itself, organically and untidily, from the seed of one word. I pruned it a little, here and there, but otherwise let it be.|