THE FROGMORE POETRY PRIZE 2010

Charles Evans

BREAK OF DAY

It was dawn, still dark in the cold kitchen
as the bright light fell on windows running with rain.
in the garden grass shimmered wetly,
the puddles stirred under drooping flowers
and the whole house slept.

First was the gingerbread man,
smiling with his Smartie eyes,
entering through the locked door;
he wiped his biscuity feet on the Welcome mat
and hugged me, warm as an oven.
By the stove my old dog,
still glossy, the trust still in his eyes,
before we buried him by the rose bush,
raised his head sleepily
and gave one thump of his tail.

I turned to the kettle
as the old School Song soared
its high treble from the sepia print
of six hundred faces ranged in rows.
My wife, long gone, handed me toast,
touching my face in that familiar way,
as the child in her arms reached towards me,
the tousled hair still blond, and grandchildren
ran shouting to the table,
where I cut them soldiers.

In the chair by the window
my old professor looked up smiling,
handing me the marked essay.
I held a silver cup in my hands, and the sound of applause
filled the room suddenly
as I set the marmalade in its place,
pulled open the drawer, and banged down the knife.
I’m sorry, I said to my wife, I’m really sorry
as I saw the tears on her face
in the empty room.

It was later now, as the sun rose dimly beyond the trees.
I wiped mist from the damp window,
cleared plates from the table,
glanced once at the silent phone,
and switched off the light.

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