From Didsbury to Coupar Angus
The envelope was home-made, from wrapping-paper
– Hunting Stewart tartan, if I remember –
and the postmark was illegible, but I knew
the careful hand it was addressed in.
From Didsbury, to Coupar Angus.
Letter itself on A4, ruled feint and margin,
the kind we used for lecture notes. Three pages
of inconsequential things
– the jokes you only think are funny when you’re not quite
out of your teens –
and details breaking surface here and there, like stones
making the river chatter.
The resit you were swotting for.
Your attempts to get the garden into order.
A description of your old room – it’s crap, you said,
there are handprints on the ceiling
from back when I was really pleased to be six feet tall-
and that was you, holed up
for the best part of the summer
avoiding your mother’s bad days, her anger
at whatever she saw you up to.
I read that letter back again
and again: knew it by heart, or very nearly.
It ended with advice about my toy owl, whose kippers needed rationing,
and a drawing of him standing on his head, chanting
Eric Clapton – boring crap.
with an address I could write back to.
Nothing much I’ll miss about here
except, this is the best set of directions
I’ve ever lived at:
head downhill, and turn left
at the derelict poodle parlour.
Look for the third last tree.
We’re after that. If you find yourself
at the psychiatric hospital
you’ll know you’ve gone too far.
Copyright © Judith Taylor 2013
Judith Taylor comes from Perthshire and now lives and works in Aberdeen. She has had poems published in a number of magazines and is the author of two pamphlet collections, Earthlight (Koo Press, 2006) and Local Colour (Calder Wood Press, 2010).