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standpipe

what if
in the unforgiving glare
of that harsh and endless summer
of standpipes and hosepipe bans,
his crimes in stark relief,
throwing long shadows
of she should have known better,
she folds up her forever afters,
disappointedly, reprovingly
and packs all her tomorrows
in an ancient case of faded tartan?

even at dawn
the house would thrum
with argument,
a plucked bowstring
of tension,
holding its breath
while the combatants
mustered grievances
for the fray.
the red checked rectangle
she grips and heaves,
a burden of guilt,
an unwieldy catalogue
of wrong decisions.

and she slips
the bolt on the safety chain
on the solid 30s front door,
unlocks the chubb
and then the yale,
silently,
as the milk float
glides into view
around the corner
of the cul de sac.

she exits
the hall of mirrors domain
of the man who’s
in thrall to his temper,
who can turn on a dime
into someone she fears.
essays the first few steps,
unsure as if across
an untried lake,
frozen overnight
into the freedom of away.

her marriage –
like a heap of unwashed clothes
in their broken washing machine –
behind her, a jumble of soiled
and mismatched items.
an endless list of chores
that will never now be done.

impossible to escape
the wreckage unscathed.
but the girls to be,
curled together
inside her
like seahorses,
can still be saved.

 

Photo from BBC.