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by Gavin Bantock
   This long grey gravelled house is without doubt
   below sea-level now. The terrace of crazy
   paving has surrendered to the wild summer
   waves of switch-grass and dandelions.
    
5   The red-tiled corridors are permanently
   damp, and something growing is pushing up
   the polished floorboards of the music room.
   Two small frogs under the scullery sink
   emphasise a silent invasion in the black
10   shiny vitality of their nervous throats.
    
   The wistaria over the bay-windows has gone
   quite mad: water on the brain, it's probably
   found a way into the attic, its long sickly
   tendrils groping in the dark and finding
15   a purchase among cartons of mildewed books.
    
   The family have all gone: a half-bald
   housekeeper keeps watch from an upstairs landing,
   urging her gross Dachshund bitch to destroy
   only male intruders. The front door never
20   slams now, as it did when father came home
   filling with guilt everybody in this
   household of blighted genius.
    
   The windows, all closed, don't seem to reflect
   sunshine; it is difficult to imagine
25   children lived here. Perhaps, as it is with me,
   they feel they live in constant half-darkness,
   like a village below water in a drowned valley.
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