No man’s land


my school-friend’s mother’s hall floor

was mined


lacquered in six-monthly layers

polished daily to a liquid sheen

would-be callers teetered on the threshold

only reflections ever crossed the stoop

to swim in the fly-paper varnish shine


her mother banned books from the house

frantic they would smuggle in dust

between their whispering pages

unwanted visitors with dangerous ideas


for some reason I think of Great Aunt Aggie

– boxes of stuff stacked crazily in every corner

slut’s wool slowly gathering on pock-marked tiles

a welcoming pot of soup on the stove

– who died in her hundred and fifth year

in a fall from a cherry tree


Better to be like Aggie

not swimming in my frightened reflection

but hitting the ground hard

fingers outstretched towards

the dangling red tease

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