tonight it's altered

he buys me    nothing
the ring's in the dish as     i wake
and walk to the edge
see the hostess
smooth chignon flopping loose

screwed face in
an animal noise
and over this his modest voice

worrying at it
he's met a woman
she's the reason he's leaving his wife

his excuse
his tangible reason
one a mate can understand

a true lie
another woman
invented here
his getaway car

when i told her
the plane man's saying
she went and ripped my kilim
off the wall
after hours reading up its pedigree
with the textiles curator at the museum she
just threw it in the fire

and started screaming
about child labour
and how it wasn't meant for me

a stinking rag she'd had
an affair
the rug was worthless
which is a complete lie
even the curator said
if you feel something for the piece
you can't put a monetary value on it

taking some tablets
my son tells me
they might settle her down
the rug is smoke damaged

but     still     ok
i can breathe
orange and brown
nothing flash the blue of
old tattoos
tea coloured fringe
i've kept it rolled
at the back of the wardrobe
in the unit

when i get my own place
it's going under glass
on the dining table

dirty old threads
a layer of poison
seeping     into the meals
inoculates     against her anger
in doses too small to register

when any room's closed
smoky scents build
it's there when you come inside
my wife's fury sours     my life
push through
nobody     ripped me off
whatever i pay
whatever she says
the carpet trader was right
in soft tobacco accented english he
folded the wad of american dollars
warm coke this piece will be
good for you
something you
feel special for had
trouble looking away
left the shirts behind
and the washing
to make room in the big case
i've left them in
the old place
for now
the boy says a haunting happens there
since blasts of stereo
lights switching
radio crackle
his mother got it in for security
it didn't deter the burglars
who kicked in the french door

they had insurance
i got them an alarm

music from the front room
when i come to pick up my son
and i think the house is empty
till she calls down
'it's your father' and he lets me in
well as far as the front hall
he gets his jacket and asks
'where     we going Dad?'
no desire to see her
lawyers in it
every Saturday

the boy zips his jacket
always has trouble with it
while the letterheads get heavier
and slide to the bottom of the page
in handfulls that weigh in sheep shit or shrapnel
my wife's suffering looks break
on the far side of the pocked glass
and i'm down on my knees sweeping
with only a dust pan and brush

© Janet Charman 1996