They were all odd dancers.
Up on their toes,
twisting in an old wind.
Shifts turned to ragged sails
from long wrecked ships
still trying to take their home.
Spent nights wrapping
their bone fingers tight
into abandoned symbols.
Gathered at last on the hearth,
faces pressed against soot
for the strings not to pull
them up again.
Up onto their toes
to dance like strange, dying flames,
guttering the last of their wicks.
This was the house with the old kettle
squatting short and fat on the rayburn,
a singing throat gurgling
to be lifted with care
from the hot plate.
Oil fire constant
within arm’s reach.
Shall we have another cup of tea?
You are here now, though not quite part of this world just yet.
Suspended inside me, you are growing into yourself,
becoming a person, becoming someone waiting for the first fall.
I am very good at sweating the small thing,
like watermarks on a kitchen counter
that are really tea stains
from what must have been the teabag chucking Olympics
because the kettle is the other end of the room,
as are the mug, and the tea caddies,
and oh yes, the sugar!
In fact the milk is the only thing not that end,
unless you were the one doing the brews
in which case the milk is also that end
because heavens forbid it should live in the fridge
where it might just survive to its use-by
instead of souring like my expression
whenever I come downstairs to find dishwasher
but no space to move for dirty plates, cups, bowls,
all stacked smallest to largest
in cracked crockery Jenga challenge number sixty,
guess it’s time to see what’s on sale
in the supermarket kitchen department.