Peter Clements

Downstairs, the crack- 
open of another can of beer. It'll find its froth 
in his growing beard.  
"He's too young to drink",  
my mother used to say with her cheap 
polka-dot blouse stiff with the cold air on the stairs; 
hands on hips, shaking her head 
-- when really this action was just to stop tears. 
"He's reversing back to his old ways again". 
Upstairs, my old bedroom windows are open and it is winter 
and I am cold and I can hear another crack of another 
beer open and I am more than certain it'll find  
itself on his beard, or on the floor 
as he sleeps himself into a drunk wet chair.  
"It's a good thing we have leather",  
reports my mother, when I tell her of the piss-puddle 
in the morning.  
She is old now. 
And as I slowly lose respect for her 
and the state of the house, equally, I find myself 
in marvel at the cleanliness of her bedroom: 
the matching colours; uncreased curtains and the 
distinct white of her walls.  
My bags are perched 
on the bottom two stairs. 
Smoking is not permitted in the house 
because it once yellowed the walls and the curtains, 
but ever since he moved back in and began to drink,  
it was best to smoke so as to match the colour of 
the fading white-to-yellowishbrown carpet. 
I remember this for a few moments.  
I light a cigarette 
and pick up my bag so that she cannot hold my hand.  
She helps me take the other bag to the car outside. 
"Be nice to your father when you get back,  
Whenever you do,  
Wont you?" 
I accelerate and cannot wave goodbye. 
I am to concentrate on the road.  
I leave the house behind 
with a lump in my throat and can see 
my old mother standing at the fence in her old cheap 
polka-dot blouse,  
hands on hips, shaking her head. 
I steer clear of the reverse pedal.