Lostwithiel / by Alex Williamson


Where were we again? Lostwithiel.

The dry-damp smell returns first:


Garden insinuating into the house

With decaying air, stirring growth.


The weight of rain drew down the sky,

Pale flora in sunlight effervesced:


Synthesis of charcoal and wet bark,

Boiling water and cooking grease.


Domesticity. We creaked about morning,

Noon and night on buck-teeth floorboards.


Doo-dah, your portly Dalmatian, depositing

A scrim of fine albino hair, her smell


Dominating all others. Basket, blanket,

Dog shit. Mornings we breakfasted


Together: you, me and your mother,

Sometimes your sister and her daughter,


On occasion some other waif or stray:

Your mother’s lover; the decorator.


Their faces all forgotten: I see you move

From room to room, a weave of brown,


Short-haired and swishing, preparing

Staple meals, or a bowl of hash.


In the high heat of summer we drove

To Padstow, St Austell and St Ives.


You took me to ‘the site’,

The abandoned holiday camp


Where the travellers and addicts dwelt

In a haze of ecstasy and smack,


Your pregnant friend,

Skin stretched tight across her face,


Drew hard on her cigarette,

Looked at me, and asked you


If you were going straight.

We scored some hash, and left


Long walks by the Fowey stilled time

To a zero, a naught, a nothingness


Of pure leisure, a fallow period

Before more serious purpose overtook us:


Work, study, the pressing distance,

Responsibilities, the pickiness of youth.


We agreed to part and were reunited

In that final week above the lounge,


While your mother’s black and white TV

Flickered out its mournful coda.