Cheveley Road

I’ve been scratching my arms again,
Rhythmically, any day ending in Y;
So I am letting ink flow now and then
For Time has no wings, it does not fly.
Your back garden lawn was always unmowed
And in summer burned the feathers of hens;
Disused tools hid in a rickety shed
From discolouring contagions of Sun.
The landlord included utensils for rent,
A Mr Mahoud from Hethersett;
The bedroom was bigger in dreams
And a squeeze in my childhood,
With sliding doors and bathroom steps.
You grew a Golden Labrador like a myth,
Its name as exotic as Nicobarian islands,
From behind the kitchen window ledge
Panting with canine excitement.
A biro marked months between our trips
On Deathwatch Beetle-burrowed mullions,
Until time deferred, and the whole world burned,
Parliament prorogued by short-eared owls,
Ladybirds lost their loveliness,
Strange collective nouns for solitary creatures
And people erupted all over the Fens.
Your kitchen clock had numbers imprinted
Backwards, some of the numbers melted
And dripped on to linoleum,
And sometimes I slept in the lounge
On a sofa which did not belong to us
For reasons I cannot remember.
Village cricket matches suspended
And the Exit from the European Union
Never existed. Back then, pubs opened
Twice a day, children could not stand at the bar,
You would buy your first drink of the day
And hide from us all the others;
That place has not gone away,
The pub is there still standing,
Still serving pork in scratchings,
But the shed was demolished, along
With its names and its numbers.
Thirty years late, this is as much
As I know about you and your motives,
And train travel, and crying at stations.
How many people have lived there since
Without knowing that you were my father;
A badger’s bed is called a sett,
We all carry our own disasters.

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