You’ll know when he’s back on the whisky,
because the taxi comes all the way out
from the town carrying the bottles, on the days
when the postman brings his cheque.
You’ll see it bump back down the muddied road
from the far end of the glen, to where the shell
of the family house huddles in its broken square
of unmown meadow, wire and pebbles.
His skinny dogs – the bearded collie
and the mongrel – chase its spinning tyres,
their sharp rasps spilling over the hillside
like too much water over a bath rim.
His muted, rheumy eyes gaze through them
and the lowered window, and for just a moment
he’s all his accumulated ages at once, and then
the man he is, older than his whispered years.
And when you finally call by at the house –
the days it’s taken him to drink it all having passed –
he’ll stand there sheepish by the missing front door,
and tell you how he’s been a naughty boy.
first published in Clear Poetry, 2015 and included in the Clear Poetry Anthology 2015