One of these Days
We really will turn out the loft.
There’s an old pram in there gathering dust,
a suitcase of baby-clothes, a ping-pong table,
those paper cranes Tom made in Japan.
Various wedding handbags in bright pink,
emerald green and that black suede one
Jo’s dad spilt gravy on while filling me in
on the big disappointments of his life.
I know there’s still a tea chest from the move
and in it old love letters, that photo
of you smiling awkwardly at Caversham Lock
before the Head of the River Race.
Somewhere in there, too, is the wooden jeep
John made for the Action Men
with a bonnet that opens up
where we kept all the odd Sindy shoes.
I picture the last Action man
dressed in the sweater mum knitted,
propped, leaning back in the driving seat,
eagle eyes staring into the dark.
Its abandoned doppelganger
goes round and round on the carousel
long after the crowds have left.
I curse myself for not tying on
a sparkly Christmas ribbon,
for not painting a Union Jack on it
like we did on our tortoise.
I walk through Nothing to declare
and out into bright sun, in my hand
Ted Hughes, The Unauthorised Life,
a banana, crisp new euros in a purse
I never use, and sunglasses.
I hail a taxi, feeling oddly weightless,
my knickers, my six ironed T shirts gone.
We can’t say they haven’t warned us.
The path is beautiful but treacherous
but we go anyway, slithering and falling
through the woods and up the rutted track
where the air is suddenly cold
and so sharp it takes our breath away,
and we’re too busy admiring the view
to give a thought to getting back
through the gathering dark, our signals dead,
to the meal already on the table.