“Did you buy apples?” I look at our replenished bowl
and you describe the last house of the day.
Taps strangled with tape, tank drained, letterbox sealed.
The debris of hurried exits – one trainer, scattered CDs,
pens, cheap clothes and a last bin liner, too heavy
and cumbersome, its pan handles poking through the skin.
There’s the damage, more than a few scuffs on magnolia,
today a radiator ripped out in rage, but it’s the kids’ toys
that get to you. Outside, about to plot the boundary,
you’d forgotten how hot it was and loosened your tie,
freed the heat collecting at your neck. Unusual to see a tree
in the gardens of this street, yet there it was, beckoning
with a branch of red globes. The rest you say quickly -
that you would never take something normally,
but you knew it would be unoccupied for some time,
it seemed wasteful to leave them, rotting in the sun.
I picture you scrumping in a suit. Jacket unbuttoned,
Brogues close to the trunk, a toe dipping in fruity mulch,
disturbing a wasp’s boozy crawl, your awkward stretch
to save the last dozen from their fate. I keep thinking
what would I leave if we had to surrender our home,
filter its contents fifteen years deep? I take hold of your hand,
say “It’s okay, I’ll wash them.” We eat them in a week,
swiping from the bowl, twisting their woody stalks as if they’re really ours.
(joint third place in the Torriano Poetry Competition 2012 and published in Brittle Star magazine, issue 30)
Rebecca Goss‘s first collection The Anatomy of Structures was published by Flambard Press in 2010. Her second collection, Her Birth, is due with Carcanet/Northern House in August 2013.