A Wall

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.


 

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