‘The Chest of Drawers’ by Maitreyabandhu

The Chest of Drawers

I ran along the lilac path to go and see her
in the darkened room where, dressed in black,
she sat with two alsatians at her feet.
She showed me how to dust between the rungs
of a wooden chair – you held the duster
at either end, then pulled one end then the other.
She taught me to draw a swan without lifting
the crayon off my pad, a triple loop
that finished with the head and beak. And once
I coloured in a goose, bright yellow, without going
over the lines; she was so pleased she told
my mother I was sure to be all right.

I’d follow my mother round the house and watch her
dust and shine; she’d let me hold the polish tin
while she ironed my older brothers’ shirts
or hoovered up the lounge. She’d roll our socks
inside each other and press them into drawers.
I’d watch her make the beds. She’d tuck the sheets
and blankets in so tight, you had to wriggle
when you got in to make a proper space!
I’d ask her what to dream about; she’d say
‘The dog’ or ‘Sailing out to sea’ – anything
to keep away the nightmares I would have
about a man locked inside an iron mask.
(from The Bond)

Maitreyabandhu’s pamphlet, The Bond won The Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet Competition and was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award. His pamphlet Vita Brevis won the iOTA Shots competition and will be published in September 2012. His debut collection The Crumb Road is out with Bloodaxe in 2013.

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