time slips

so mum dies and the house gets sold
and everything progresses smoothly I’m told
as smoothly as she left this planet
at night, in her sleep, with her dog, like she planned it

apparently the contracts exchange today
and quite what that means I couldn’t say
some kind of ceremony? probably not
a sharpened quill and a crystal skull inkpot
no, just some dry formality
the relentless, legal reality
of the passing of another family home
to somebody else who arranged a loan
with plans to totally gut the place
from mouldy bathroom to garden gate
a smart renovation in the general theme of
the ideal life you might well dream of

now – I’m not someone who believes in ghosts
the place would be crowded with a hapless host
of spirits from the ice age on
who couldn’t accept their time was done
and the world didn’t end with them when they croaked
and their legacy wasn’t as big as they’d hoped
unfinished business? sure. whatever.
living proof nothing lasts forever
okay not LIVING – but you get my point
you’re just another thing littering the joint
you should shrug and learn it’s time to move on
like Dad’s shed: here one day, the next day gone
or that bed where as a kid I was perfectly skilled
at getting under cover before the cistern filled;
or that stone where I buried a Strepsil tin
with coins and a stamp and a message in
(my time capsule tin was a total flop;
I robbed it for sweets at the corner shop);
or the door where grandma appeared one night
in her nightie in winter her hair pure white
two sorts of Denis in her bungalow
and then give or take a month or so
something even more egregious
dumped in a caravan in Bognor Regis

because every house is a delicate mesh
a bricks and plaster palimpsest
where all the atoms are overlaid
with the dreams of every person who stayed
and made the best of it, and pinned their hopes
and other, cliche domestic tropes

in a further metaphoric escalation
I read about a nearby excavation
where archaeologists uncovered a series of boats
carved from eight enormous oaks
expertly felled with Bronze Age tools
to fish the creeks and tidal pools
of the Fens where Mum and Dad bought this house
three thousand years ago or thereabouts