Today's poem is by Tom Pow

Coda: Leaving the House

Whenever we left the house
for any time, Mum liked to leave
a little washing on the line —

a tea towel say or a dish clout,
just to make people think we were
merely out. Curtains she left

half closed, with blinds half down:
let the unsuspecting who called
around find us half open, half shut —

screening the brightest streaks of light
or keeping a grey day at bay.
But of course anyone who peeked

would know no one could possibly
be living there — each surface
so carefully scoured, the smallest

cloth folded by the sink. Leave it
as you'd wish to return to it
was Mum's motto. But Dad scolded

her in her absence as he packed
and re-packed the car. 'How your mother
thinks all this'll fit ...' Dad lacked

the patient arts. And it's an in-
complete art, the art of leaving
a house. I hear my own wife start —

'What's keeping you?' while I roam round
our house, twitching at the curtains,
leaving something always undone

Copyright © 2003 Tom Pow All rights reserved
from Landscapes and Legacies
Iynx Publishing / Dufour Editions
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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