‘Flat’: a poem by Tim Relf

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

 
 

    Flat

 

The new floors, kitchen and bathroom, I can just about cope with.
I’m fine with the built-in bookshelves and landscaped patio garden;
ditto the high ceilings and period features this Victorian conversion apparently boasts;
but why is there a cot in my room?
A baby’s cot?
Away

I’m led, now not even the rattle of trains: edited out or avoided
in the 841 sq ft on this quiet residential street in the highly desirable area known as Little India.
I’d heard this suburb referred to as ‘Nappy Valley’, but never envisaged this –
a cuddly dolphin
diving,
a mobile with red, blue and yellow fish
hanging.

Whatever possessed me to think – I think, as I press pause – that I had any claim on this place?
My life here –
there –
one frame, frozen out, from the bigger picture: this spacious, split-level conversion with scope to extend,
an irrelevant still from two decades back, predating an estate agent’s marketing device...

Yes, I’ll take the video tour,
but only when I hit stop –
in the bumps of the bannister, the top-of-the-stairs-turn, the lounge ceiling slope, the six steps before you stoop, 
          skyline through the window, clouds through the Velux –

only when I close my eyes –
my suitcase under the bed, a cereal bowl on a pile of dusty CDs, coins scattered on sides, notes by the phone, 
          an overflowing bin, soft voices through walls –
are the particulars of a world once waiting for me.

 

Tim Relf

About Tim Relf

Tim Relf won second prize in the 2021 McLellan Poetry Prize. His work has appeared - or is forthcoming - in The Rialto, The Frogmore Papers, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Friday Poem and One Hand Clapping. His most recent novel, published by Penguin, has now been translated into more than 20 languages.