The Return

Olivia McMahon

We sat on the plush settee
flanked by mahogany,
slowly turning the pages of albums —
photos of weddings, holidays,
grandchildren playing in gardens.
Catching up.

But I hadn't wanted to catch up,
I'd wanted to go back
to a weekday morning in Paddington,
to our bed sit.
Housewives' Choice is playing a song from South Pacific:
'I'm gonna wash that man right outta my hair...'
Nylon stockings are hanging from the mantelpiece
like votives, anchored by inkpots,
and I'm upon my knees,
ironing on the threadbare carpet.

And life is still a garment hardly worn.