A poem by Robin Houghton


In the first floor apartment movers swarmed, big
hands, my childhood piano shifted by their grunts,
prints lifted from walls, everywhere the sound

of paper, rolling and wrapping small items, I glanced
away from fridge magnets, swaddled in their shrouds,
laid out like ‘pass the parcel’ games, ready to pack.

My cupboards were emptied with kindness, I’d no doubt
these men had seen it all – the loved things kicked
out, to be replaced: soup bowls, matching plates.

Buffered in crates, my stowaway box made tracks,
sailed down the wide Columbia River to the spouts
of whales, south on warmth to the Baja, leaving the States,

eased through the Panama Canal, squeezed out
across an Atlantic curve of Earth there to be sucked
north, north in the wakes of great liners and guillemots

appearing in the fat blink of a child like a fallen book
on the horizon from Brighton beach, soon to roll the streets
and reveal themselves at my door, fresh as flowers

seven weeks after I’d got off a plane and stood creased
and sobbing in a friend’s kitchen. Had I only known
about the cruelty of arriving too soon, the beauty of lag.
(from Iota 91)
Robin Houghton is a communications consultant, trainer and writer based in East Sussex. Her work has appeared in magazines including The Rialto, Agenda, The North, Iota, Poetry News and Mslexia.