Restoration

Stephen Wilson

You must have escaped in a hurry
dropping so many little intimacies
from our lives – thermal vests, long johns,
a lace camisole, a black bow-tie,
a packet of Tampax on the floor beside
the bed, my old tennis-shoes
(were your backs done in too?).

I picture your arrival, through the rockery,
sinking your feet into heather,
shrugging off rhododendron branches,
strands of honeysuckle; prising
open the sash with an iron bar,
your bodies folded like contortionists
among slivers of glass and wood.

Surgeons in a slapstick
operation, you don rubber gloves
still wet with Fairy foam,
and choose the right knife
for the job. You have turned
our house into a fading Caravaggio,

which the men from the Incident Room
lovingly restore. When the silvery powder
is brushed away, we can see
exactly what you fingered;
a textured print of small circles,
like suckers on an octopus tentacle,
softly formicate under our skin.