David Howard
Private Life

The private life drama, baby, count me out
- The Pretenders

When your father died you became
lighter by the five stone his cancer had
left. A bonfire of letters

curling over a semi-detached home
into the nothing it partitions;
opportunity’s stomping ground

a quagmire of washing-line, mower, concrete
blocks stacked against the shed
where he smoked over porno. You enjoy

an aunt’s belated accolades. Choice.
Then that perennial second cousin, Monday, pulls up;
an orphanage’s despair fertilises the firs

bordering your property. Spirited as
a discharged patient, you
skip the rest of the story, lifting

off from your ‘home’ town.You were born
on a rocky ridge pocked by quarries -
there’s no perspective

emptier; understanding was the gap
between cerulean and cobalt. Your tennis clothes sweat
gently as this morning lifts you

clean off the earth. Recreation becomes
penance and paradise is a glass of pear nectar.
Words are no longer of this moment

itself, but your experience of it
self, which is beyond comprehension:
It is vanity to desire anything

that is past. The misery afterwards
was, of course,
a luxury.