Last Respects
The few lines We’ve left Highwood, winded her.
After fifty years a flit to another ‘Lodge’ in the Midlands,
central heating, double glazing, the girls to keep an eye on them.
One last drive down laurel lined memory lane;
It’s like Christmas for her coming up here, father
delivering his daughter from only childhood to a house full…
Now building’s ivy beard trimmed, cottage garden de-tangled,
the house was already becoming a stranger,
Help yourself, permission from estate agent showing prospects around.
Habit pulled her through naked rooms to kitchen.
Formica cupboards, enough to make retro dealers salivate,
removed, but trelliswork where family photos bloomed,
left on walls, the pictures plucked though.
In here, ordeal of raucous family suppers for the little girl,
Their mother her minder against family’s verbal rough and tumble.
Two steps to the sitting room voided now of;
wood burning stove, travel memorabilia on walls,
coffee tables littered with correspondence.
An adult friendship with the parents; tea in dainty cups,
wrapt by mother’s tall tales of gothic coincidence and slapstick mishaps
contradicted by husband in rich Laurence Olivier voice.
Ducking under the back door into the garden reclaimed from
near neighbour wood. She and Jo hours in their virtual world
where giant pampas grass was a monstrous spider.
Double back down badger-burrowed passages to room
previously clad with father’s 1,000 books. She beamed
when trusted with a Hemingway because I know you will return.    
For years an invisible rope across bottom of stairs,
Use the loo down here, dear. Now tip toe trespassed up,
open mouth discovering their secret, caved in master bedroom roof.
In Jo’s cabin boy quarters, no Whimsy menagerie to finger
with pick pocket itch, but spatial reasoning test, how camp bed
was fitted in for sleepovers they stomach cramp giggled through.
Leaving Highwood, she spotted beneath an ornamental garden seat,
the garland that hanging from door knocker used to greet guests,
hesitated to rehome, instead laid the wreath on the front door step.

Fiona Sinclair

If you have any comments on this poem, Fiona Sinclair would be pleased to hear from you.