Chattels

The door is locked and the key turns like a knife in the door,

Unread letters and junk mail litter the hall as I enter.

In the living room, my picture hangs proudly above the grate,

A tea-stained mug sits on the sideboard next to your pen.

Your reading glasses sit snug in the cubby hole of the cabinet,

What were once your eyes, now reduced to glassy pearls.

Even with your blood-rushed head you left the important papers

On the marbled coffee table we bought you one birthday.

Beside them are handwritten envelopes addressed to the grandchildren,

No doubt a parting gift of a tenner or two, like the money

You used to give me to buy ice-cream from the singing van,

“One screwball please, and a ninety-nine for my Father.”

Somehow you are still here, a presence in the house,

Transformed into a smoky scent, heavy on your armchair.

Sheet music sits at the piano in the corner like you once did,

A faint tune chimes from the dusty coral keys.

Ingrained into the walls, the foundations of a well-lived life

Scattered amongst loved, yet unwanted gifts from us all.

Ascending the stairs is strange without your calling after me,

“Check for damp in my bedroom” – you thought I was an expert.

Spilled onto the bed are the peculiar contents of your bedside drawer,

Old watches, fancy lighters, a half-started diary, nail clippers.

Oak tallboys burst with your old shirts and ties and leather shoes,

Donate them to a charity shop, they’re of no use to me.

I smile as I find a photo album, pictures from my childhood.

The album with a dustsheet of dust, occupied with changed moments,

Now more important, which have plucked small treasures of our time together

And a backhand that all the time we had is all we’ll ever have.

I take what I want from your bookshelves and your cupboards,

Mostly to remember you by, a reminder in the strangest things.

The house becomes a raided clam as I load the last of your belongings into the car,

One last look and I twist the key in the door and lose you to your sleep.

 

– Daniel Williams