My Father’s Hut


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My father’s hut in its dark creosoted heyday and me (as a much younger child)



I am a child once more,

approaching the wooden hut,

wary of the shady gap beneath,

with its arsenal of rat poison laid out.

Upon the door are runes in chalky white,

surely a magic spell–but actually something

Dad wrote in Cyrillic,

as a joke.


The garden shed he built himself,

made of splintered knot-holed slats,

weathered grey, blessed by an afternoon sun,

frail cobwebs draped like lace handkerchiefs

in the corners of a window pane

as dark and impenetrable as the surface

of a murky pond.


I stand on tip-toe and unpick the fiddly latch,

the door creaking open on a secret treasure house–

things hoarded for the after-life perhaps,

smelling of ancient dust sheets,

anointed with creosote and powdered insect killer,

shrouding a discarded huddle,

possessions from an exiled world,

no longer belonging.


My small hands pull out from the heap

the musty green book with fleur de lys

of daffodil yellow on the cover,

now scraped thin.

I find the first page and my finger traces

an old fashioned script,

some ancient language alien to me–

I put the book aside.


I need to be out in the garden again,

to be part of the bright tumult,

those dancing shadows, racing clouds,

enjoying the forbidden delights of squished poppy heads–

not circumscribed by the collective gloom

of this doleful place,

the tall rusted hoe with the frown,

the grimace of the dented Crown paint tin,

a drip of solidified crimson on its lip.


And some thing I really don’t want to see

is bound to emerge from those

obscure corners–or that pair of old gum boots

will start walking in revenge,

chasing me into a dismal hollow,

of warped wood and earth,

where a rustic coffin carelessly pitched,

might lie broken, offering a terrible

glimpse of bleached bones–

not to mention those sticky cobwebs

reaching out to tether me,

while a big, fat Shelob

creeps along its silky tightrope.


I must escape before anyone counts to ten,

so I push open the door and jump out,

my small legs carrying me past the flowerbeds,

towards the Dalek mound of rubble,

beyond the runner beans,

into the wilderness,

and I stop to catch my breath beneath

the swishing branches of the majestic cherry tree,

gazing upward through a crazy tangent

of questions against the sky.


My Father’s Hut

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