Maria Taylor

Two Poems

My Stranger

hangs where the plaster cracked
and the ribs of the house show.
He’s the only stranger I can afford,
a middle-aged man in a plaid shirt
smiling for an artist. Nothing to me,
but still I hang him in the hallway
and call him dad. Of course visitors
have doubts. I know they know
his hair’s too light, the eyes too blue.
I win them over by recalling
our fishing holidays, how dad slit
the belly of a rainbow trout and out
slipped a diamond ring for me.
A perfect fit. Dad was handy.
He met my mother when she broke
down outside the Camden Palace,
and changed her tyre without a jack.
He made us a sherbet play house,
we licked its walls to nothingness.
He taught my brother harpsichord.
Now he’s international. You may
have heard him on the radio.
That’s a self-portrait. He never lived
to paint us all. ‘What a terrible loss,’
visitors sigh. I lead them into
a living room and whisper, ‘Yes.’


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