Issue 26: Stuart Pickford

The Window

Inoperable, aggressive, sent home. I looked

at those words of stone again and again;

read them and had to leave the kitchen

to clean the skylight, I said. For months,

I’d ignored the grime of winter on the window

above the stairs. Balancing on the banister,

I stretched and a block of January air

fell past my face as I turned the Velux,

the sky, upside down. Blooms of lichen

and white spatterings, I smeared, rubbed,

rubbed until the glass returned to perfect

and showed the matter in the winter sky.

Neil, the lad I met at primary school,

who sat with me through all those lessons;

his green cotton goalkeeper’s gloves,

his safe hands; walking up Beinn Donn—

the sea is a single piece of calm,

the sun gives each island beaches of gold.

We stop. We could be in Patagonia, you say.

In the weeks to come, your bed will be moved

down to the front room; a solicitor will visit,

you’ll sign. And this window will be like

the railway station where I last saw my dad,

this pristine window haunted by bats,

framing the swallows which ride the curves,

swallows that cross the Sahara each year

returning to the same house, the same eaves.

Stuart Pickford has been the recipient of a major Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors. His first collection was The Basics, which was shortlisted for the Forward Best First Collection prize. His second collection is Swimming with Jellyfish, published by smith/doorstop.

Copyright © 2021 by Stuart Pickford, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.