Pat Borthwick


How soon a house is taken from itself
as damp creeps in and black mould
climbs the window frames. This,
my last visit before sale boards go up
and the heavy contents
reach the auctioneer.

My father will be seated now,
not at his long Jacobean oak
but at a round Formica table –
carers serving smooth food. He’ll
be tricking their eye for ice-cream
before they’ve read his notes.

The old house is cold, not
the furnace I recall. Someone's
emptied cupboards, unplugged
the rooms. By the sink,
as if still expecting him,
a knife, a fork and spoon.

Outside, the garden is a roar of Spring.
A slow dome, easily unseen,
lumbers through the lawn’s long grass.
No one remembered the tortoise.
I should take him home with me,
coax him to eat. Bathe him in oil.

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