Poetry 1


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.