Hand on heart

I don’t let on how uneasy I am
in a neighbourhood where there is no shade
as if people there had no need for trees, only for tat
and the gardens where dogs buried bones and people buried dogs
get buried themselves under tarmac to provide parking space
where birdsong competes for airtime with coughing
and a black crow lands behind the white TV aerial, and has grill marks
where you stood next to a clump of rogue daffodils and spoke gently to me
with your tattoos and a cut on your nose, and a dental record
of where you had been gone for the last eight years
gray, porky, valentino – the names mean nothing to you now
the scribe of your memory has scratched it all out
to begin anew, ‘a fresh start is what I need’
and so he began but couldn’t carry on, leaving
you with a scratched record, I am-, I am-
playing endlessly those first two notes of hope
and mockery
your child hounds me from the gate
‘give us a pound, give us a pound’
decorum here is the frilly day curtain, blowing out the window
it’s jaundiced with cooking oil which is only right
we’re no frills here and there is a price to pay
there is always a price to pay
for the square peg
as your steer your son back into the house
your pat on his back is like a pounding
us knowing one another is now not a given
pain on a drip feed, a thin live wire
and yet you will outlive us all
you will walk around wearing a duvet
with your eyes still on the prize
hand on heart
golumn of the north

Take me home