Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 84: Bridgeton, Glasgow

Tenement, Solway Street, 1973

Half the tenement clawed down,
three living room walls loom over
the rubble and stoor;
gold flock
over orange swirl
over green bamboo.
Once private backdrops to huddled family
welcomes and falling outs, now inside
out and peppered with drizzle
and dust.

A central bright patch marks
a missing mirror, the faces and their reflections
packed away in newsprint.
Three gaping black hearths wheeze
evening air, ungrateful
for their liberation
from wally dugs,
family photos
and eager Christmas stockings.

The calendar hangs squint
over the fireplace on the green bamboo.
Two West Highland Terriers
and a tartan ribbon guard the last fluttering page.
December. Half the days stroked off in blue biro.
The pen is gone,
and the hand that raised it
now hangs January in a sheltered flat,
or presses pale against hospital sheets.
I shrug against the north
and prefer instead the thought
that in sunshine it touches
the breeze-stirred hair
of a Melbourne grandchild.

Paul Docherty

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