The Poet’s House
The house he lived in has been sold.
Expect some gentle haunting. The ghosts
of a marriage in hoarded plastic bags,
whispering books packed on study shelves.
Surely the floorboards still remember
the warm reverberations of music he loved:
Vaughan-Williams for sweetness, Beethoven
for bad moods, Wagner when angry
and Schubert Lieder for love.
The wallpaper holds shreds of conversations
talking poetry for hours because it mattered.
On the wall drawings friends had made,
a terracotta hare to remind him of Cowper
a windowsill full of model ships never sailed
but unfurled to sing him gull songs,
honour his father. The crossword’s half done,
the chess set laid out but uncontested.
Every time I remember him, my own ghost
hovers for a moment in the space I used to sit,
Matt expansive in his favourite chair
conjuring me a welcome with hugs and coffee.
Lucky the new owners, inheriting
so much love crammed under roof tiles.
Bring in the new furniture, set free the piano
listen out for poems writing themselves
onto air, syllables chuntering in the dark.
This poem is from the sequence Catching On to be launched by Rack Press in February 2011 in London. I hope Matt would have liked these poems. Writing them has certainly helped me to part with him, and I don’t suppose I will ever have a friend like that again. But for 36 years, I was blessed.