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A Family Behind Glass

by Matthew Hedley Stoppard

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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