The monkey’s eyes go right, go left.
See the sloping flag floor, the range,
Willie Mackereth on his chair, knees to chin.
See George Mackereth, a white cat on his lap,
The World at One at his elbow.
See the bureau, the day’s business,
1972’s calendar on March.
Here’s Hilda Benn with bread and butter,
a teapot in its cosy. Set them down.
The rain that has decided to fall
on that day at that time is falling.
One moment I see you, says the monkey,
one moment I don’t. Where is he,
in his Victorian jacket and tie,
where is he and what does he see now?
Eyes right, eyes left at the window –
Dad’s coming to collect his daughters,
hear stories of playing slip-slidey
on the chaise longue in the parlour
behind the back parlour, supervised
by china dogs; how one day George
said the monkey straightened his tie.
The stuffed fox, eyes fixed, told no tales.
He longed for the truth of a bracken patch
at dusk, the breathing of wings.
At the fork in the corridor, Mr Fox,
keeping you in his line of vision,
slowing down time as you head towards him,
the flags moulded to rock, a strip of carpet
to the flags, my young hands
to the pot of bramble jelly
I am returning to the pantry:
turn right at the fox, climb three
stone steps, find the preserves
on the far sconce, feel the rock-cold.
Monkey, turn yourself back.
Let 1972 be on the wall,
let cares be in the bureau,
cats be on laps and let the world
be at one. Let the fox leap
in his case, the tails of china dogs
wag in welcome, let the rain say
I’ll fall today. Eyes right,
eyes left. One moment
I see you.