So much rain, such a cloudburst, and the downpour
going on so long that the children
won't be fobbed off, they clamour
for their boots and cagoules, they jiggle
about while we unruck socks, struggle
with zips, but they're out in it now, arms flung wide,
rain tattooing their palms and their tongues,
wading in the lake on the gravel,
while we're back in the pantry mopping up,
bringing buckets and meat tins and cloths
to catch the grey drips that keep tracking
through the tiles when the wind's in the east
that I said I'd get someone to fix
I'm reminded by that tightness in your lips,
so I settle to the job, shift stuff
off the shelves, clear the floor, the veg rack,
dry pears, wipe the spatter off onions.
Then later when I'm calling them in
for lunch, I find them squatting in the drive,
our heavy spades flat out beside
a land they've drained with canals
that connect and are linked to a sea
with its shingle beach where space
Lego figures stand waiting for a boat
to ground. Turning at my voice, they frown,
puzzled, as if they'd left me ages
before and can't make sense
of my English, my obsolete accent.

from The Man Alone: New and Selected Poems (Smith Doorstop, 2008), first published in Permission to Breathe (Smith Doorstop, 2001), © Michael Laskey 2001, used by permission of the author and The Poetry Business


Michael Laskey Reading from His Poems



3Family Planning


5Living with the Doctor

6On My Own

7Between Two Lit Rooms

8The Clothes-peg


10The Flat-warming



13Not Before Time

14Fried Potatoes

15Picking Raspberries with My Mother




19Laying the Fire

20Driving Home

21The Day After


23Life After Death

24Home Movies

25Permission to Breathe

26The Tightrope Wedding


28The Page Turner

29The Right Place

30Not That He Wrote Poems

31Tinkling Cymbal

32The Man Alone

33The Corpse

34The Last Swim