The poem I’m sharing today was written after a visit to Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, Sheffield. The fantastic Nell Farrell, whose poetry I admire so much, later ran some writing workshops at the site which I was fortunate enough to attend. The site has inspired so much of my writing lately, I thought I’d put this poem on the blog by way of a thank you to Nell and the team at Abbeydale. Also, it gives me a chance to use this amazing graffiti image, which I assume is by Kid Acne. Copies of his work used to hang on our kitchen wall until a few years ago, cut out of the free magazine, Now Then. Topless urban warriors – I can tell you we got some strange looks from the man who came to read the gas meter!
Now the rain, the wooden bench outside
too damp to sit on. Winter air cuts like a scythe.
Now the past, rent books that read:
skelper, wheel, dam, counting house.
Now a pair of King Charles spaniels
on the mantelpiece, gilt flecks, yellow eyes.
Now the stump of a candle on the windowsill,
cobwebs netting the light.
Now the creaking stairs, the black bed frame
against peeling walls,
worn linoleum, patchwork bedspread,
peg dolls cushioned like the relics of saints.
Now the long mirror in which I see myself,
just turned forty, troubled by cysts,
looking at history through its silvered reflection:
lace-hemmed windows, a child’s smock,
the coffin-shaped crib at the foot of the bed.