Pity the woman who moves
to a house without her ghosts:
ghosts of her children’s songs,
their drawings pinned to doors
and foot-scrapes under swings;
the ghostly echoes of parties she gave
for tipsy laughing friends.
Other wistful wraiths
went threading through her rooms
to make their presence felt
when a wind unsettled the trees
or homely floorboards creaked.
Forty years of ghosts
should not be left behind
to wander unattached,
lonely and ignored.
Watch this woman upsize
and spurn her cast-off homes
like broken shrivelled husks
roughly flicked aside
as bits of real estate
for smart investment sites.
She’s tried a sea change, tree change,
an elevated status change—
each lacks the thing she craves
on long solitary nights
when chilling thoughts bear down.
The latest house she’s bought
had all its scars scraped back,
the walls are whitest white
but only strangers’ ghosts
drift queerly through the space.
Doing the Laundry
I used to love the steamy scent
rising from my mother’s wash:
she fed our sodden sheets and clothes
between the mangle’s rubber rollers
sometimes letting me have a turn
to heave and push the handle round.
Squeezed flat, the clothes came through
paper smooth to fall in the trough.
We fished them into a wicker basket
and lugged them out to peg on the line,
its wire held up by wooden props.
A wind from the sea would blow them dry.
Now I work in a cluttered room
feeding paper through the slot
behind a noisy printer’s rollers.
One by one the pages lurch
into the maw of the little machine
that prints my weekly wash of words.
Out they churn, freshened up,
to drop into the waiting tray,
a stack of pages trim and flat
wearing an altered pattern of words.
In a sunny room the laundered lines
are scanned again for tangled thoughts,
to check that even the slightest stain
was found and scrubbed off early drafts:
the copy should be whiter than white.
Soaking, washing and rinsing clean
will often brighten the dullest verse
to something you could wear to town.
Lament of the Ageing Bird-watcher
Although I have
the usual itch
my legs won’t take
me out to twitch.