is a draught-board of blue and yellow
tiles that refuse to stay stuck down.
You step from tile to tile as if everything
is fine, then trip on a tile’s raised edge,
arms flapping with the jolt, only just
managing to stay upright. You talk
about new surfaces: soft carpet, warm
underfoot, or cork, or the strength
of quarry tiles, able for your trek across
this room. When a pale square of concrete,
dry and colourless, is exposed,
you reach fast for your tub of glue.
You blame the steam, the tread of feet,
poor cement, buy stronger adhesive,
apply it in zig-zag patterns over backs of tiles,
stick down hard, leap, jump, stamp it down.
Next time only the edges of tiles can escape.
Their centre holds so the comers snap. Black
uneven lines mark new patches, refuse to erase
under breathless scrubbing, will not lie flat.
Now you cover the worst areas with offcuts
of carpet, orange swirls over beige and brown.
You move these about, search for the best position
to hide the disintegration under your feet.