At Aunt Mabel's, 1951

She opens each door like a volume
of wild flowers, clinched in tissue.
They wait, her servants.
Husband, husband, doff me gently:
we are here for inspection,
like sheets from a landed laundry.

In the house of your aunt,
no hankies are ever faddled.
We sit, in our honeymoon,
saddled with aching bums,
pinching at biscuits with porcelain faces.

My God, her sheets! Drawers open
and drop their square jaws to order,
linen as crisp as a frost
when they'd melt if ever my fingers
approached them. Help.
They desist from visitors.
You'd sleep here at yellow peril,
scraping a shin on the creases.

She catches your wink
and confiscates it, tucks it away
like a curse in her apron,
steals it to tender her iron a treat.

I rattle, your bride. She cuts
silhouettes cleanly, and their dust
dies on her sideboard.
She takes me for the spare silver frame
on her long black rink of piano.
Husband, husband. Your family's
snapped up my image like clams.

From Robinson Crusoe's Bank Holiday Monday