I talked to avoid confrontation
Though practic’ly mute as a child
Postponed arguments with conversation
Changing subjects when tempers weren’t mild
That is how I once took up the trumpet
Said the first thing that entered my brain
When the atmosphere eating was honed to a point
As the adults were driving me sane
When I stepped in to cut off their fuses
Much the same as diffusing a bomb
There was never the time for new ruses
As absurd comic timing ploughed on
By expressing an int’rest in something
At a tangent from what came before
They were forced by convention of dining
To allow me to take to the floor
Over dinner I failed to digest much
Of the victuals that cooled on my fork
In my vigilant state I arrested debate
With diversions of plausible pork
Falling in love with the painting we hung
Over my piano – a dark and rainy night
A bridge of cars and glowing lights
Artfully smudged to please
A scene of childhood dreams – when I
Still believed good would come of arguments,
When all of life was a journey
I’d gaze at the rain on the glass, reflected
In the sepia and orange flashes of each lamp
As we crawled through the traffic jams
On balding tyres in the darkening wet
Our parents itching to speed through red lights
In such a hurry to drive each other to distraction.
Crossing the river to the South Bank for
Another sycophantic symphony. Performance Art.
Adults in their finery who’d brought their
Best feet to put themselves forward
And left their manners at home in their holey jeans.
The gloom of this familiar view is comforting.
I can remember the Christmas at my Grandparents’ flat
When my Grandpa threw a tantrum ‘cos the
Tree trimming was taking too long.
My sister was inconsolable and cried for an hour
For our ever-distant mother, absent again
And I helped Grandma in the kitchen until
The storm clouds blew over and all
Was cherubic plaster smiles and tinsel twice over.
The picture knew how I felt.
The picture was the view from the bridge
Another bridge, in a different city
But no matter; we understood each other.