North Dean

A gust of wind, I swing wide the door,
rush in,
the stairs take my breath,
each step
a giant stride
for little legs.

I turn towards the room where I slept,
the cold metal of the threshold strip,
the towering white wooden door
and, at eye level, the oval handle.

The heavy bed covers are fringed with tassels
that quiver in the draught from the window.
I lose myself again in the picture on the wall,
treading the single track to the woodland clearing.

And now I return to the stairs,
each foot sinking steeply from step
to step, to step, like boots into mud.

I swing round the banister post and rush
along the hall, past the sunken temple-cool
of the pantry and all its pungent mysteries.

Face flushed, into the kitchen I burst -
into the empty kitchen.
No crack of the gas stove lighter,
no crunch of the coffee bean grinder.

In the dining room, beneath the great slab
of table-top oak, I crouch again to touch
the carved mice on the legs
of the cane-backed chairs.
I glimpse a face at the serving-hatch,
hear the rattle of the cutlery drawer.

I rush on along the hall,
beneath my ancestors' disapproving looks,
breathless into the light and space of the living room,
I see again the stained glass in the bay window
and the spider-web crack in the corner,
a silent shriek trapped in glass,
fixing the moment a childhood game went wrong.

And I lose myself once more in pictures,
in the mountains of Japan
or among the granite houses of a seaside town,

in the same way that I lose myself now
in this visitation

that I stow away again in my mind
with confidence

like a painting
into storage.

James R Kilner is the author of two collections of poetry, both published by Lapwing, Frequencies of Light (2015) and Persephone (2017). He began his career in the newspaper industry in the north of England, as a reporter initially, before going on to become a feature writer, sub-editor and, eventually, the Deputy Editor of a weekly publication. He was awarded a PhD by the University of Leeds for his research on Ted Hughes. He lives on Tyneside in the North-East of England. His website is