EXTERNAL AFFAIRS /
This is the sole recording they persuaded her to make.
Listen closely and you will hear beneath the static
The clock in her hillside kitchen, the spitting fire
Set because so many neighbours were bound to arrive,
A door opening unexpectedly, a tramp of hobnailed boots
Ushering a man in from the yard, his low voice apologetic.
And behind him, beyond the thick-set windows panes,
Winter wind and rain amid the bent shoulders of trees
And, even more faintly, the hum of an engine running
To charge the batteries powering the revolving spools
Of the reel-to-reel tape machine in her gas-lit cottage,
Where she has made tea for strangers and neighbours,
Apologised for the pot-holed lane and shocking weather,
Discussed local deaths, the electric wires creeping closer,
When finally, reluctantly, with almost shy reverence,
She has taken her grandfather’s fiddle from the wall,
And started to play the tunes he taught her as a girl.