Denise O’Hagan: ‘Subtext’


I am talking of the dent in the hallway door,
The cracked halo of paint around the handle of
The third cupboard in the kitchen, the tracery
Of sentence scraps and childish doodles held
In the wax polish of an old oak dining table:
These things, the chipped and the stained,
The broken and the maimed, fill in the pauses
In the official narrative of our daily lives.

Written into our walls and floors, inscribed
With incidental eloquence into the underbelly
Of our furniture, in gatherings of little lost items
Fallen into fluff behind sofas: here we may read
The subtext of our days and nights. We need to
Work backwards, build on the fretwork of fact
To feel the passion in a pressed flower falling
From the leaves of a novel, the heavy pull of
Domesticity in a torn-off shopping-list, touch
Grief folded into a curl of hair in an envelope.

Denise O’Hagan

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