The Manchester Review
Paul Batchelor
Two Poems
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To Keenleysides

First, the overwhelming need to get out of the house.
Second, you like the smell: a resinous high note in the nose,
sharp enough – keen enough – to make a child blink.
Cut pine stood for something, each measured plank,
seasoned, expectant, trim, true. A smell smart as a whip,
quick as the clip you got for back-chat. Inside the shop,
sun-warmed copper and the dull shine of the stepladder.
A compartmentalised world, a masculine dream of order.
Rawlplugs. Bolt cutters. Nails and screws arranged in drawers.
Your favourite aisle: the endless row of coloured doors
opening on to nothing but more doors – no big bad wolf,
no wicked queen, nothing but a smell like promise itself
that keeps coming back as the aisles drift on forever;
and it’s cold like a shop shouldn’t be and you shiver
when a fork-lift truck wakes with a grumpy farting noise.
Here, a stack of pallets. There, a pyramid of tins that rise
like the wish to cry. This must be the world of work
everyone said was waiting for you. You could go back
to the brass doorknobs and house numbers and doorbells –
you could go back and make-believe you’re somewhere else
and the bonny-coloured glass, like the stuff in your porch,
has turned the place into, say, a draughty little church;
but look at you now. You’re making yourself look childish.