My mother wedged my bed in the car
the single frame and mattress shoved
in the hatchback of the Austen Maestro.
I had a new key to an old door
of a council flat with wooden stairs
covered in trodden circulars addressed to someone else.
There were no curtain tracks so
I nailed my curtains up and tied them back,
proud; my own windows, my own view of the carpark.
A family kitchen, no cooker, no fridge,
only a bucket of cold water with a carton of milk
in the summer heat; bobbing.
A view across the town
How many mill chimneys?
One dozen, two dozen, three dozen.
Footsteps echoed down the walkway, shouts,
not the calls of pheasants, owls or foxes;
A swaying man thrust his key at my door
‘I’m sorry you don’t live here,’ I said, with a smile.
I had a lot to learn.
by Catherine Simpson