Family Secrets

This is an avenue or maybe a crescent,
tree lined with coiffeured privet hedges,
a rectangular lawn Father manicures
with up and down stripes
every Sunday morning
before, as habit dictates, he prunes the roses
a-hum with Elgar and Vaughan Williams. 
During a worker’s tea break
he assimilates rich tea biscuits
to digest theories that the loss of Empire
is relative to a loss of standards, or faith,
or knowing one’s place, or some other
variation to the enigma.  Mother Dear stays
behind the net curtains, made to measure
from Marks and Spencer’s, bakes cakes,
brews Earl Grey tea or percolates Brazilian
coffee, flicks through glossy style magazines
to keep in the know about the next must have
big thing.  Shines the house with beeswax, polishes
the silverware with Johnson's, sings Elaine Page
as she waltzes with the upright
in this temple where everything is sparkling antibacterial

The dining room-come-through lounge
gallery proud, rich in family history
display cabinets of Royal Worcester
shining hall marked Georgian silver
A pair of landscape water-colours
by a lesser known Victorian artist,
a comforting tick tock tick tock
from the carriage clock, London maker,
centre stage on the mantelpiece.
Solid silver candelabra, arms out
stretched across
the dining room’s mahogany table,
and everything from bowls of fruit,
vases, objet d’art to wine glasses,
carefully positioned nestling on
pretty pretty little lace doilies.

Then there’s the wedding day picture,
caught in confetti rain outside St Peter’s
and the formal group shot, all of which
seemed so terribly important to be
in the correct order, wouldn’t do,
wouldn’t do at all if ‘cheese’ was said
and the best man was standing
next to the vicar’s daughter.
Oh! look, there’s Mother Dear
and Father too in Rome before
the children were born.
Proud photographs of son Timothy,
now at Cambridge reading business,
phones every weekend to ask for cash
hasn’t quite started his fiscal class.
Then there’s pretty Evie as captain
of the school hockey team, now she’s just
turned sixteen and prefect perfect,
in line for straight ‘A’s, set to follow
big brother down the Cam in a punt,
maybe something to do with law
or even as a medical student.

Upstairs, in the private world,
a French walnut master bed
dressed in white embroidery anglais,
crowned by a bleached muslin canopy,
and of course, a tasteful frilly valance,
with extra added cushions to flirt
with the idea of glamour. Her wardrobe
preserved in an aspic of reverence,
cocktail dresses dressed in cellophane
kept still and ever so ever so quiet,
designer evening gowns
expensive outfits she’s hardly worn,
look back at her through velvet
boredom, look back at her with scorn.

Sensuous lingerie, that froths
and foams in a scented drawer,
yet never sees the light of day,
or night, anymore. She can’t
even make up satisfaction, can’t fake
orgasms when there’s no action,
so she lays awake and escapes
into the pile of books
on her bedside cabinet. Pages groaning
with romantic friction
and heart stopping hoaxes,
until in the dark
she’s all aglow with longings.

His suits hang sombre still, and a mass
of white shirts like queuing ghosts,
ties folded and catalogued by colour,
pressed underpants, top pocket
handkerchiefs. There are outfits
for the golf club, very jazzy,
and casual wear for the firm’s casual
pub outings, he considers these ever so
slightly risky, a daring hint
of being trendy. As for bedtime
reading, inducement into the world
of dreams, with Accountant’s Weekly
or some tiresome company’s
annual report, for his turn over
is strictly profit based with the
only stimulation coming from a rise
in interest rates.

Timothy’s room is almost a shrine,
nothing is ever moved or touched.
Yellowing posters of now fading
rock stars, an electric guitar (unplugged).
His cricket bag sits and creases,
the season is not for another
term yet. Piles of summer clothes
precision folded, waiting expectantly
for sunshine and good times
at weekends in the Brighton clubs,
and tucked-away Chelsea pubs.
CDs and books in alphabetical order
somethings are written in DNA.

Sweet Evie, hormones stirring
with teenage rebellion, a room full
of chaos, a bed full of urges.
Smiles from rock stars in ‘let’s
do it’ poses, an antique dressing table
covered with make-up explosions.
A carpet of clothes, empty wardrobe,
hangers are a free thought;
they go where they roam. Abandoned
mugs are a fungi statement; sometimes
spilled. Stains are always another issue.
There are scarves and shawls with fringes,
shimmering jewellery, just hanging out
looking Bohemian, although in truth
it’s just ordinary mess and disorderly.

A guest room
growing with cheeky chintz,
a lonely wardrobe wanting to be used,
a single bed eager to help with a dream,
chest of drawers with a Gideon
and a nice view overlooking the garden.
There is a place for everything.

Some things not found on display:
Set of three flying ceramic ducks
for the wall, the pin-art abstract
that once hung in the hall.
Chrome plated bonbon trays
and crocheted sardines, cross stitch
cushion of the Hay Wain scene,
Spanish donkey, Eiffel Tower,
‘we’ve been to Disneyland’
baseball cap, plastic pink flowers,
cute porcelain kittens, mirror backed
sconces that came from Thailand,
Prince Charles Lady Di wedding
portrait mug, fishwife verbals or even
dropped haiches (take your elbows
off the table).

Images that do not appear include:
photographs of Great Granddad’s
lungs in the mud of the Somme,
his arms and legs somewhere
in Belgium. Granddad in his uniform
eating a pork pie at the liberation
of Belsen, Grandma Charlotte’s GI
black lover cheek to cheek at a dance
in Cheltenham. Father at Cambridge
reciting Betjamin and Auden, inhaled
once - never quite been the same since.
Mother wearing a roll neck jumper
on a CND rally
marching through High Holborn.
Wedding day laughter caught on film,
holiday snaps of happy days
ice cream smiles, sand castle flags,
vino, almost smell the sun tan oil.
Timothy wrestling
with his school friend Justin.
Evie off her face,
at her first illegal rave.

There are certain things
that Mother Dear keeps quiet.
Like Mother’s little helper isn’t a lady
that ‘does’ but comes as a pill,
she has prozac love. She had told
the doctor life’s not treated
her too well of late, well
the last twenty years at any rate.
It’s the pressures from the past
moving in to form a depression,
she has never told anyone
about the adoption. It remains
her whisper, her rumour,
her black cloud that hovers,

more than twenty years on,
maternal missings threaten,
will it want the lie
that it was conceived out of passion,
or raped by her Father after a business
function in Hendon. Added to this stress
she’s healing a broken heart
after neighbour Sarah ended
their wonderfully sordid afternoon
romance. These days
she pretends a lot,
and feigning migraines wins time
alone with her nine inch friend.

Father has some secrets too,
when alone in the house there’s
a suitcase cleverly hidden
where he keeps his evening dress
and his high heeled shoes.
There’s a Mini Mouse outfit
with a wig and ribbon, he’s ventured out
in that, well as far as the garden.
There’s also lots of leather,
and self abuse is so his pleasure,
he even thinks that nipple clamps
should be available on the NHS.
Accessorises his ball bags with bulldog
clips, enjoys catching his foreskin
in his zip. Wears an anal bung
to Sunday dinner, so important
the family all sit down together.

Timothy has tried to say;
‘Mum, Dad, I’m totally gay’
instead he leaves little clues,
like the protective box in his cricket bag
that has Justin’s name on it,
the tube of KY in his bedside
cabinet, or the extensive stash gay porn
in his closet. It would seem,
some topics aren’t up
for discussion, not even
a change in career, moving
away from banking
to mince about in fashion.

Evie’s secrets are locked away
in a schoolgirl’s doodles of hearts
and coded squiggles.
You can search all you want
you won’t find her hymen,
that’s gone; not missed
a long forgotten fumble.
Es in a vitamin bottle, weed
stash in her fluffy pencil case.
She seems to be learning
how to hide modern life; a box
with a cunning false bottom
and disappearing a packet of condoms. God bless Blue Peter; thank heaven for getting shagged and wasted.

A hobby room, where
Mother and Sarah performed certain
positions. Father masturbates whilst
sniffing Evie’s trainers. Timothy
first swallowed school friend Justin.
Evie fucked Gavin, Nigel and Jim.
Everything has it’s place.



©2007 P.A.Levy
First published 2008 by Unlikely 2.0