In the tall, cold Georgian
we knelt in the cupboard containing the boiler.
He said: “This dial shows the pressure;
this switch releases the water.”
There was no clue
as to the contents of his toolbox
and as I had never seen its owner before this visit,
there was a risk in our sharing a crawl space,
and I confess I was frightened in my own home
as I’ve been even when there is no one in my cupboards.
I have asked relative strangers
to wait at the door while I search for intruders.
The intimacy of their protection comforts me briefly
until I have to send them away.
When the lesson in the cupboard was finished,
he was on to the next man or woman, in the next cupboard,
in the next house, which is no doubt tidier
than mine, but cold, too, as these houses here are.
From Magma No. 36, Winter 2006