Everything feels soft to my hands useless with cold
in this high-style country cottage, a retreat
for painters and musicians in summer. I put them up

and feel my father’s head, his thinning, pliant hair
and scalloped temples – there to threaten or impress women,
I once read, with the frontal bone of intellect ...

The central heating clicks on, and the warm air
shoots straight up into the triangular apex of the studio,
against twenty feet of northlight, now darkness and fog.

I’ve no reason to believe there’s anything below me –
the presumed foundations, whichever of God’s creatures
left their prints in the snow and didn’t turn aside,

the taped felt undercarpet worn down by unknowns
and by the organist of Chelmsford Cathedral –
but I bring into it Trevor from downstairs,

security guard at HMV and abject night-time guitarist,
tapping his foot into a pile of blankets,
black-and-blue notes whimpering through the floor ...

My fingers whiten as they bunch themselves
to grip my father’s pen. Silver and surgically thin,
taken in error, its ink is thicker than blood.

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