What the Furniture Said About Us


He was never part of the furniture,
barely in.
But he kept the windows clean,
next to the century of soot
on the brickwork.
We had
a third-hand settee,
sparsely
sat on a fading carpet,
smaller than the room,
a foot off the skirting,
no room for
the fourth castor of a chair
which hung a quarter-of-an-inch
over a floorboard.

The newest thing was me,
everything else threadbare, thin.
The pelmet hung
with curtains, short here,
but had fitted our first house’s
windows to perfection.
Then there were the walls.
Yesterfolks wallpaper
dying, consumptively
giving up its ghosts.

Later, as a clerk
in the housing department,
I saw the old files where
strangers judged us as a
family of good character,
furniture- adequate but clean.

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