I covet this house, not far from mine,
shouldered by a hill.
Looks best in mists.
You can glance
through a window to a window and
out the other
side where sometimes bonfire air
ripples like the past.
To covet this house
I must not think it a parasite
nor home for grown-up dolls.
I must not think that if an old mine
fell in beneath
it would not shrug and topple.
Instead I think this house a sleeping child –
past father, tomorrow’s sun –
clinging to hurling earth,
bright breaths from darkness,
mists lifting –
Mum’s word: (in lonely dale) Two boys, outrun from me –
I looked – and they were gone from me – you haven’t seen them?
(Panic clear, the quiet first flush)
Me: They’re round the corner (he blinks) I’m sure,
they’re there, I think, I’m sure – (he’s walking on)
But there were no voices,
no footprints in the dew.
They were not in the apple tree.
They did not scale a pine.
There was no laughter.
They built no den in their field of steers,
they slung no clay.
I’ve walked on. Somewhere
the boys dance, lumpen-hooved,
their pale mouths move.
Joe Marsh is a writer and teacher based in the Derbyshire Dales. He is Playwright on
Attachment at the Finborough Theatre and First Story Writer in Residence at Landau
Forte College Derby.