So named because you were London’s laundry,
a little islet of sud and labour, importing the dirt
of Kensington and Chelsea, whilst your slum kitten children
mewled around your knees, shedding Mary blue tears
and where was the mother to clean their faces?
Above a pub, the air sighs with the rags of songs and ale
they bring in the filth through the carriage entrance gate
see to it all with dolly peg and mangle, their bowls of snow and bubble,
restoring the salt-blush to linen cheeks,
sending home virginity like a birthday present.
A hundred years later, buildings lose their relevance
frigid redbrick covered in mad, mad mouthfuls of dirty kisses,
smut and rain on windows, a church mistaken for a snooker hall,
aerosoled goal posts on its walls, a halation of dreck,
mud washed halos above the map of your head.
I think how all your houses have been demolished,
no one remembers the island.
How I long to scrub and mend, to take an iron hot from a pagoda stove; straighten and make new.
Maria Taylor has been published or has work forthcoming in various magazines, including The North, Staple, The Guardian Online and Iota. Her debut collection Melanchrini is published by Nine Arches Press.