Old Walt used to watch the cleaning woman –
Through the spy hole.
Breasts hung as she scrubbed.
In the monochrome passage.
...and the neighbours
talked about it for weeks...
29 May 1979
This is not a very good poem but it is of some importance. It leaves things up to the reader. Completely. What did Walt do? Kill her? Rape her? Expose himself? Drop dead in front of her? It could be anything. Years later I expressed myself far better in my poem ‘Reader Please Supply Meaning’, the title poem of my latest collection. You can read it in this old post.
We never had a cleaning woman. I don’t think we had one. Or maybe we did. I know in the next flat we lived in the neighbours used to pass a bobbin back and forth. When it dropped though your letterbox you knew it was your turn to clean the stairs, the landing and the bin shed. But I don’t remember doing that in the first flat we were in so maybe we did have someone come in. That was the first place I lived in with a spy hole. Quite taken by it I was. So maybe I did watch a cleaning woman one day. Maybe that’s where the idea came from.
We have a spy hole in this flat and occasionally—as recently as yesterday in fact—I’ll hear some kerfuffle in the hall and go and take a look. Not sure what I expect to see. Not sure what I’d do if I did see anything. But I still go and take a look. Might be an idea for a poem there. You never know.