Up at Nancy’s
You ruminate – as the wheels spin on a mossier stretch
of the cobbles – on how they’d never build a road like this
these days, all the way up the hill to where field and moor
merge indifferently into one another, where the improved
becomes the unimproved. They wouldn’t even build a house.
She’ll be long dead by now, of course, so there’ll be no more
of those illicit cans of sweet stout skulking in the refrigerator,
rubbing shoulders with the UHT milk cartons; no more
coal-black surprises coiled in the plastic commode for you
to deal with. No more memories of George, ‘God rest his soul’.
She’ll have stopped wondering what might lurk about the upstairs,
where she last went over a decade ago, when her knees
were still behaving; stopped smiling in that borrowed way
of hers, with those flawless dentures, that surely belonged in
someone else’s mouth. They never mirrored the eyes.
‘This property would benefit from substantial modernisation’
bleats the brochure from the auctioneers. The images show only
the views across the dale on a high pressure, July afternoon,
and the centuries-old defiance of the stonework. Not the interior.
No mention of the ghosts you know you’d be sharing it with.
first published in The Interpreter’s House, issue 66, 2017