I was eleven when he allowed me in,
my eyes painting colours over dust-archived pictures
hanging behind a fall of cobwebs swallowing
the candlelight struggling across the room.

A blinkered moon glimpsed through a tear in
an old newspaper pasted onto the window glass.
I stood trying to read its sun-bleached print
through a tangle of ivy grown from a floral pot.

The room was not of the house; cold and uninviting,
winter seeping through large gaps in the floorboards
stitching the hollow sound of my footsteps
to my frozen breath.

Reflections of the moon’s intrusion drilled holes
in a dark corner where my imagination rummaged
through a cardboard box filled with unplayed
gramophone records.

I sat beside him on a wooden chest, fingering the lock
holding its secrets. As the candle-flame peeled away
the dryness from his eyes, I knew he was grieving,
what only he saw, the child’s graffiti handprints on the wall.

Cradling his thoughts under the weight of my enquiring mind,
the room slipped into monochrome, and for a while,
I breathed in his silence, making it mine.

 

Rowland Hughes ©