At his back the loose
bottom board of the gate
snags on a dried mud-rut.

A ridge of old knuckles tightens
on the hilt of the blackthorn stick
as he shuffles round puddles, pot-holes.

Grass has collapsed in on itself.
A limp clothesline loops
between decrepit poles.

Pale smoke streams
from the chimney, is absorbed
into grey cloud.

Wind sucks a white curtain
from out a downstairs window,
snaps it like gunfire

and an upstairs window
darkens as a face
withdraws, waits.