southend poetry home page

back issues







Katie Mallett


Layer by layer
the old paint stripped away,
each coat a decade,
the changing colours
a kaleidoscope of seasons.

Parts were easy,
curling from the shavehook
like wood from a plane,
others were hard, tenacious,
clinging to the core

like old habits
bonded to the soul.
At last the wood was bare,
the joints exposed
as Adam's unwrapped ribs

before the staining
and the covering of the Fall.
We pondered on the grain
as saw it was uneven,
talked of oil,

then wax, then varnish,
not content to leave it raw.
As vulnerable as a new born babe
it needed clothes,
or a veneer,

the comfort of
a lifetime's cloak
of old habits,
an accrued armour
to protect it from the world.