The irritations of comfort—
I visit as they rebuild the house
from within: whitening, straightening,
bracing the chimney-breast edges
and forcing warmth, dryness
and windows with views into
the cottage below canal-level.
For yes, there’s a canal, bringing
cold reflections almost to the door,
and beyond it the main line to Manchester,
its grid of gantries pale
against the upland and the sky;
there’s a towpath pub, where the red-
haired old landlady
brings up the beer from the cellar slowly
in a jug: there’s a chapel
next door to the cottage, set up
with a false front and a real
rest, my mind—nearby there’s
a small haulage contractor’s yard.
Everything’s turned up here, except
a certain complete cast-iron
housefront, preserved and pinned
to a blank wall in Ottawa.
beckons. It won’t do. It beckons.
Driving steadily through rain in
a watertight car with the wipers going.
It won’t do. It beckons.