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Moving


Sit down among the boxes and write a poem,
he told me; obedient, I'm writing.
Moving house, he said, is such an ordinary
thing to do—a regular activity,
especially for you—no obligation
to unpack at once or be too dutiful.

Find a vacant corner and there among
half-empty cartons spilling crumpled paper,
piles of sofa cushions and rolled-up carpets,
dining chairs like acrobatic couples
or swimmers, chest to chest, one pair of legs
trailing through water, the other flailing air,

and think about important things—not builders,
plumbers, electricians. I try to remember
how it began, this restlessness: a lifetime
trying to feel at home. A need and hope, he
hints, which might be programmed in my genes,
bred in the bone—nothing to do with him—

and makes me realise again those complex
ties that hold us together: everywhere,
both of us are strangers. Then: 'Let's open
a bottle of wine and drink a toast to life,'
he smiles and holds me close, 'then go upstairs.'
Why not? I ponder, putting the poem aside.


Ruth Fainlight

New & Collected Poems
Bloodaxe Books / DuFour Editions


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