Now that the streetlamps have stolen the stars
from the afternoon sky, sleep, content
and lovely as custard, pours over us. We sit
with winter on the settee, arm in arm –
our legs interlaced like denim snakes,
bedlam pressed between our palms.
The boiler bubbles and hisses, pumping tea
into the radiators; a roman candle
bursts inside the fireplace when it’s poked.
We watch a carpet waterfall tumbling
down the stairs to the living room, where cigarettes
are kissed rather than smoked.
Outside, beyond our back garden, the farmer is growing snow;
his brown eiderdown has been overrun with marshmallow, and the clouds
have split and spilt talcum powder on the hills around.
The cast of breakfast waits to tread a toast stage;
mackerel paddle in the blue waves of the grill
and ghostly poached eggs haunt the saucepan.
Yolks explode and a red button is clicked
to start a hurricane in the kettle.
Because warmth passes through the terrace walls,
each tenant is snug as hands in pockets. Our jumpers
and sweaters stop wrestling in the washing machine
when the suds begin to drown;
so we lasso the clothes horse, unfold it
and hang our insides out.
from A Family Behind Glass (£7.99, £2.99 Kindle)
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