The ghosts are easy. I can switch them on
like a tv soap. Here’s Pa going up the stairs,
flip flap, the flattened back of his slippers
and Ma in the kitchen, her cigarette ash stretching
precariously over the black frying pan. One sister
in her room of make-up, petticoats, sequins;
the other sobbing over her boarding school trunk
and my various selves flitting about, age this
that, the other. Here I am – flash – and here –
and here. Do I really have to say The Lord’s Prayer
twenty times without making a mistake? Am I
still at it? Voices in the garden. The cough
on the stairs. The wooden gate. Spots of time.
The house that mothered me more than mother.
Somehow the memory of it’s gone shabby
as if it needs fresh paint, the windows cleaned.
A silent, sullen child stares out, closes the door.
About this poem
In 2015 the Scottish Poetry Library commissioned poets Douglas Dunn, Vicki Feaver and Diana Hendry to write on the theme of age. Their poems appear together in Second Wind as part of the Saltire Society’s pamphlet series. The project as a whole is supported by The Baring Foundation, as one of its series of ‘Late Style’ artist commissions.