THE PLAY HOUSE by Barry Tebb
We had a new house
And split the decorating.
You took the piled rolls of paper,
While I stacked the cans of gloss,
One to each corner-white-what else?
And when we began our slow labour
We did not even sigh except in some relief
In being there at last.
There were no spaces for our children’s visits
Nor for the children they would never bring.
All rooms sat square and small, but with
Every outside wall a window. There was light
Enough for a studio wherever you went,
And for the tiny hall you chose
A glazed blue bowl of your own making.
The house stood on a hill, just a little
Inaccessible but, in view of our age, others
Had to be near and there they were, paired like
Dominoes in black and white, or chequer board
Squares with a neat red pillar-box
Anchored on the corner.
All the day of the moving I longed to be alone
With you; for the men in their old-fashioned aprons
To finish and be off and make space for you to squat
And with your nimble fingers light the one real fire
We had been allowed, so I could sit in my winged
Windsor chair and decipher the text of the flames
And savour the smoke before the up-draft caught;
And for a few days there might seem little to say,
The clay wet in the bin, the canvases heaped in the studio,
And the faces in our children’s photographs stranger