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Making sense of history in a new home.

That was your cue

Kneegee_croppedby twdhughes04 Mar 2014

Our bedroom, our dining room, kitchen
even,
were once one vaulted snooker room,
and the alcove where we sleep
a recessed dais with chaise longue
for those who were merely
contemplating the game.

French windows from the table
opened to a grand conservatory;
rich plants before the planted garden.
The rose arch, then tree line
behind the garage block,
followed by summerhouse folly
on the knoll.

*****

Lead, oak, granite mosaics and marble,
mahogany where the worm was got and
walnut corners where red ochre sawdust -
like a desiccated Bordeaux brimmed
to times’ palate -
reams rich with frass.

Tall drinks
on the console table
all afternoon,
waiting for something
at the end of the Twenties. Ten
years since war; ten years to war.

*****

These were cues
we could not take up,
cues which were the playthings
of rich farmers,
this house given as a wedding gift,
gift for a daughter,

from landed family
who lived in the castle
built for Shelley’s grandfather.
Crenellations waited ready
two centuries ago
for his return from the Grand Tour.

*****

Drownings in the Serpentine,
unforwarded letters;
sails gone under.

Yesterday I emptied
the cellar of chemicals;
down the staircase cast the wine.

When I returned, the room
was filling with water to
waist height and above;

a single fish
flopped on the rack,
muscles trilling.