Their front door. What was the colour? Blue? Green?
No, some things they could agree
so it must have been white,
no doubt a beaten white, needing a repaint.
Because, after all this time, it’s the truth he wants,
a nailing of fault, he imagines struggling
with clownish overshoes before he enters –
stubborn stickiness of latex gloves.
Inside, there are no surprises: the football
still lies awkwardly in the hall, a pink roller skate
beside, while beyond, the living room
retains that singed air of a stage set,
the climactic scene over, its actors gone.
No-one has straightened the print above
the hearth. From the mess under the sofa
a doll’s bare arm stretches clear.
And here’s the dining room – sole backwater
in a house which, yes, now he recalls, always seemed
chaotic, awash with kids, friends trailing
troubles, and he and his wife forever working.
With pressure like that, what chance had they?
Nothing suspicious, no need for charges,
he writes, pressing hard
in his notebook.
The heavy door clunks shut. But conscience
like an odour, slips under it, round it,
restores a woman’s face, another woman’s face,
and the time after football training
when a seven-year-old boy tells him –
You’re not my Dad anymore.
Quentin Cowdry is a former journalist now working in recruitment who lives in Twickenham. Poems have appeared in titles such as South, Obsessed with Pipework and French Literary Review, and one is forthcoming in Poetry Salzburg Review.