28 January 2007

A Pretty Object

Signs Of The Former Tenant

Whatever she did all day

it wasn't housework
the lady downstairs says
the kids were always filthy
it takes me a day to remove
their fingeprints from the walls
and hours of scrubbing before
the tub gives up its dead-cell scum
and the oven is free of grease
even the smell is stubborn
windows open for days against
dirty diapers and stale food

The place is liveable now at least

though some things can't be fixed
the broken latch on the bedroom door
and the worn pattern of the tile
from the kitchen sink to the front window
where just at eye-level
faint smudges cling
like breath clouds
sobs imprisoned in glass

Bronwen Wallace
Signs of The Former Tenant
Oberon Press 1983

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