I admit I came to lay it at your wooden door
but stop to let the flaking fact sink in, as if
it mattered; you haven’t painted the door in years.
They called it Burning Ember on the colour chart.
It’s sun-baked now but still reminds of the buttercup
you held beneath my chin, nodding as it shone.
I pretended you were right. For years, when you passed
the little gold parcels across a coffee-shop table, I smiled.
I learned to like the texture but never the salty aftertaste.
The lock remains, the rim now freckled with rust. I must
still have the key; could filter through the bottom drawer,
feel for the grooved edge of a key, cut to mirror yours.
I could check if you ever lifted the carpet in the hall
to reveal blue mosaic tiles. Did you strip the paper
from the wall? Let the roses drop in a soggy heap?
If I climbed the stairs I’d be careful to miss out
the sixth step in case it creaked; could pad softly
to the spare room where the curtains are pulled
to dip my head below a mobile of moon and stars;
watch her breath rise and fall under brushed cotton.
Her golden brows are yours. Her gorgeous lashes flit.
Do you remember the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam?
How we argued over Vermeer and de Hooch, the former’s
windows, the latter’s doors – dutch doors – horizontally
divided, so the two halves could open independently,
allow just enough light to illuminate a patch of terracotta
tile. And how you laughed as I mistook A Mother’s Duty;
saw only silk, not the leather shoes or the small head buried
in her mother’s lap. I believed she was sewing, not picking
nits from a mop of dark hair. I’ll leave the key beneath the mat.