Singing Lessons

Barking and yepping long before I’ve parked,
your dog still knows the sound, the creaks and coughs
of your Citröen I’ve been the sole driver of
for the now exactly four years since.
It’s as though she thinks one day, just once,
as the chassis sags back on its haunch of air,
it’ll be your scuffed soles on the gravel walk
and then in the hall your dark asthmatic voice.
To improve which you took singing lessons - and offence
when I mimicked your teacher’s fit of despair.
What stopped me then from saying that your chesty wheeze,
wrecked with Runcorn smog, Speke’s pharmaceutical haze,
was always a kind of home, not just to the dog,
and as heartening as any human song?

from Ink Stone (Faber, 2003), © Jamie McKendrick 2003, used by permission of the author

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2Sky Nails

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3On the Volcano

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4Et in Orcadia Ego

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5Ancient History

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6Six Characters in Search of Something

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7The One Star

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9Gardener’s World

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10Apotheosis

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11Oil and Blood

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12Chrome Yellow

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13Beyond

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14Sea Salt

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15A Mole of Sorts

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16Singing Lessons

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17The Needful

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18The Canary Principle

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19Polonius

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20Unfaded

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21Twain

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22Vocations

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24The Book of Names

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25Out There

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26The Perils

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27Teazles

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28The Gate

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29The Literalist

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31The Judgement

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32Cofiwch Dryweryn

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33Epithets

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34Stricken Proverbs

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Books by Jamie McKendrick