Whirlpool

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He tried to talk to me
again, then sprinkled his fingers over the sink
in a kitchen that no longer smelled of smoked mackerel
and toast, his hands plump fish pushing down,

down through the dishwater. My father stood stooped
as if searching for a lost wedding ring, wiping knives
with a cloth and left them, filmy with rainbows, to dry.

You see, this wasn’t his kitchen,
the crumbed beech of the worktops, tea-stained linoleum
left somewhere, stuffed in our history, a two-year co-habitancy

slabbed underground with the heft
of her expensive slate. She loomed behind him, round as Venus,
burning candles through the musk of tarragon and lamb,

tiny lemon puddings in glass ramekins.
It seemed to me she came quietly, at first, a shiny blue shoe
skewed in the hallway, the faint scent of Jo Malone Red Roses

ghosting in his bedroom, then all of a sudden
her shadow lumbered across every wall, swept up the crumbs
of his kitchen, dragged him like Hector through the dust

of our two-bed house. She eyed me
and kissed his neck hard, drowning his voice like Scylla
swallowing Odysseus, the whirlpooling silence between us.

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