In 1963 we moved to a bungalow half
-way up a dead-end street, a red brick
box with two bay windows staring.
Doors painted blue and yellow, fancy
stained glass, an apple tree
bordering the River Tees.
At Heaton Drive we played no
hide and seek, four rooms, a bath,
perfect for three. I learned new words,
detached, overtime, Cul-de-sac.
I learned the conspiracy of mirrors
and how to polish glass.
The parlour belonged to untouchables,
Capo di Monte folk on lace doilies,
lead crystal birds perched.
So we lived in the living
room, floored by checks.
A circular mirror hung by a chain.
There, mother reached every morning
to wind rollers, powder cheeks with Yardley,
fix lipstick. Father carved
sandwiches of jam and cheese on the Formica
table, self-built, lining the drawer with felt,
forks and knives in compartments.
By the bay window, one armchair
upholstered in daisies, turned an angle
away from the view of wooded hillsides,
river snaking south. Back to my mother
adjusting stockings, tightening her girdle,
harnessing breasts, while father studied maps.