The Fieldstone Review

Roofer

by Catherine Edmunds

  Danny knew a good strong gust would strip off the tiles
  next door, he knew to avoid re-used slates from China,
  he didn’t use spirit levels, didn’t measure, used an old
  wooden ladder which bounced around like a zany
  because aluminium froze your fingers in winter.
  Lunchtime,
  he’d climb to the top of the roof, no scaffolding,
  eat his pie and build a spliff, his yellow fingers
  curled round the photo I gave him, just a bit
  of fun I said, just a laugh, but don’t tell anyone.

  In another age, Danny would have been poacher,
  not ploughboy and I, the Lady of the Manor—
  we would have run away with the raggle-taggle gypsies,
  we would have had crazy, fearless children.

  My husband employed an expensive firm
  to put everything right and finish the work.

  Ten years have passed, but I still remember
  the smell of plaster, dust sheets, brylcreemd hair,
  eyes that crinkled with smiles and smoke, rough hands
  holding a photo, pert, innocent.

  I have borne my husband two sensible, quiet sons.
  They go to a good school where they will never learn
  about tanalised roofing laths, they will never consider
  how grey concrete tiles turn slick and blue
  in the spring rain, and how when the sun shines
  they are glorious, bright as the reconditioned rococo mirror
  my husband bought for the library.

  I love my sons and I love my husband
  and I love the mirror, but sometimes,
  the mirror looks back.