Each imperial brick length
required malodorous acid
to be dippled, slow-brushed
(avoiding the old lime mortar),
applied to each unpainted face,
covering the exposed wall:
“Up, tight as possible,” she said.
“Right to the [recently plastered
and whitewashed] ceiling.”
My red canvas was four yards wide
(an old measure, antique, in keeping
with the building’s Edwardian lines).
I laboured, bent more, for a day,
etching with those rarely-exercised
dug out tools:
A paint scraper, a black hammer,
a quite unsure stepladder,
and two inherited wire brushes;
that last pair kept
over forty years to remind me
I am not the practical son.