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.