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Boiler Repairman

Kathryn Maris

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