YOUR FATHER'S LIVING ROOM RUG
After your father's death, you brought home
his rug. It was frayed and faded. It did not match
our walls. I explained that no, we couldn't use it
in the living room: there was no place for your father's
rug in our home. You argued for it.
I said no way.
You took the rug, finally,
to the basement, to the odd little room
no one used. For fifteen years
it remained there. Forgotten by me, but not,
of course, by you. The time came
when we needed space for storage and I went down
to the room; you followed. There was the rug.
Mildewed, damp to the touch. It has to go,
I said. You said no. I called our daughters
down. They held their noses, stood
There was not space enough
to roll up the rug. Its bulk was so great
it took the two of us even to fold it lengthwise
in half. Its backing stiff, heavy
with memory. And I
still blind to it.
The two of us pulled, shoved, forced.
Got it out of the little room at last, into the dark
of the furnace room. We shunted our bodies
against it. The air filled with fibres and mould
We fought. I cursed, you shouted.
Over and over you said it couldn't be done. I said
it had gone in, therefore
it would come out.
The rug stuck at the turn
to the stairs. I gouged at the wooden trim with a shovel.
We got it 'round at last. Rage pushed the rug up and out.
I see the scars of that struggle every time
I go to the basement with the laundry.
Dream, sometimes, that I'm
still pushing your father's rug
through the long tunnel of basement,
still breathing in what it shed.
From A Bee Garden (Cormorant, 2013) by Marilyn Gear Pilling