I had twenty-one days annual leave,
Christmas and Easter included.
Finish at five,
‘Do not leave a minute early’,
regardless of hours I worked
last night or day before
when the Foreman wanted something
only available in Bristol
for God’s sake.
The plant was closed down,
the MD head butted into the office
wanting to know why.
My explanation to the Foreman
repeated with more expletives
spinning up to the blameless roof
where pigeon shit fell
on all the verbiage,
a perfect riposte.
The house fresh with memories
eaten time and time again.
Sunday nights, dark at five.
No escape route. Gut flickering.
Street lights funnel to tarmac
struggle, stop dead.
Do you have any answers?
His address tattooed on my heart and
thin life: suet pies and cheap peas
sozzled in vinegar and aiming for taste.
See him light on his feet,
running for something: anything to save him.
I allow myself to forget,
make everything gloriously new.
Hope Street to brand new council house
where light no longer growls from a gas mantle,
electricity makes everything easy.
No-one lives above or below us,
shuffling across floors, crying out in the middle of the night.
I am ignorant, not able to do anything.
Everything annoys. Worries.
Switching on the radio,
loud Bakelite clicks of music
for anyone but me.
I cannot recall one conversation.
Words glued to the roof of my mouth.
Blanket wrapped around a bony frame,
Giacometti, I have yet to see.
This is the beginning I do not want.
Tom Kelly © 2023