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THE PLAY HOUSE by Barry Tebb
We had a new house

And split the decorating.

You took the piled rolls of paper,

While I stacked the cans of gloss,

One to each corner-white-what else?

And when we began our slow labour

We did not even sigh except in some relief

In being there at last.

There were no spaces for our children’s visits

Nor for the children they would never bring.

All rooms sat square and small, but with

Every outside wall a window. There was light

Enough for a studio wherever you went,

And for the tiny hall you chose

A glazed blue bowl of your own making.

The house stood on a hill, just a little

Inaccessible but, in view of our age, others

Had to be near and there they were, paired like

Dominoes in black and white, or chequer board

Squares with a neat red pillar-box

Anchored on the corner.

All the day of the moving I longed to be alone

With you; for the men in their old-fashioned aprons

To finish and be off and make space for you to squat

And with your nimble fingers light the one real fire

We had been allowed, so I could sit in my winged

Windsor chair and decipher the text of the flames

And savour the smoke before the up-draft caught;

And for a few days there might seem little to say,

The clay wet in the bin, the canvases heaped in the studio,

And the faces in our children’s photographs stranger

Than strangers.
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