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The damp had got its grip years ago
but gone unnoticed. The heads of the joists
feathered slowly in the cavity wall
and the room’s wet belly had begun to bow.
Once we’d ripped the boards up, it all came out:
the smell, at first, then the crumbling wood
gone to seed, all its muscles wasted.
You pottered back and to with tea, soda bread,
eighty years shaking on a plastic tray.
One by one we looked up, nodded, then slipped
under the floor. We moved down there like fish
in moonlight, or divers round an old ship.
Source: Poetry (July/August 2013)
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This poem originally appeared in the July/August 2013 issue of Poetry magazine