Singing Lessons

Barking and yepping long before I’ve parked,
your dog still knows the sound, the creaks and coughs
of your Citroen I’ve been the sole driver of
for the now exactly four years since.
It’s as though she thinks one day, just once,
as the chassis sags back on its haunch of air,
it’ll be your scuffed soles on the gravel walk
and then in the hall your dark asthmatic voice.
To improve which you took singing lessons – and offence
when I mimicked your teacher’s fit of despair.
What stopped me then from saying that your chesty wheeze,
wrecked with Runcorn smog, Speke’s pharmaceutical haze,
was always a kind of home, not just to the dog,
and as heartening as any human song?

from Ink Stone (Faber, 2003), © Jamie McKendrick 2003, used by permission of the author.

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