So much rain, such a cloudburst, and the downpour
going on so long that the children
won’t be fobbed off, they clamour
for their boots and cagoules, they jiggle
about while we unruck socks, struggle
with zips, but they’re out in it now, arms flung wide,
rain tattooing their palms and their tongues,
wading in the lake on the gravel,
while we’re back in the pantry mopping up,
bringing buckets and meat tins and cloths
to catch the grey drips that keep tracking
through the tiles when the wind’s in the east
that I said I’d get someone to fix
I’m reminded by that tightness in your lips,
so I settle to the job, shift stuff
off the shelves, clear the floor, the veg rack,
dry pears, wipe the spatter off onions.
Then later when I’m calling them in
for lunch, I find them squatting in the drive,
our heavy spades flat out beside
a land they’ve drained with canals
that connect and are linked to a sea
with its shingle beach where space
Lego figures stand waiting for a boat
to ground. Turning at my voice, they frown,
puzzled, as if they’d left me ages
before and can’t make sense
of my English, my obsolete accent.

from The Man Alone: New and Selected Poems (Smith Doorstop, 2008), first published in Permission to Breathe (Smith Doorstop, 2001), Michael Laskey 2001, used by permission of the author and The Poetry Business

Michael Laskey in the Poetry Store

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