The Kodachrome Book of the Dead

Frozen in their Kodaks,
our old folks wear slippers
to protect the carpet from their feet.

Colours leech. A tap drips.
Dinner lingers in another room.
A yucca erupts on the lawn.

The lounge is an orgy
of fakery: leatherette armchairs,
plaster dogs, silk orchids,

mock encyclopedias
and more fringe than necessary
on lamps, hairdos, lips, pelmets

plus random tassels
wherever there is dangling
and come-hither velvet.

If a grandparent smiles
it is like a wolf had stopped by
for tea and a slice of Battenberg.

Parents vogue in folky
knitwear surrounded by cigarettes
and the Sixties.

Is this how they will see us,
our early years tucked into albums
balanced on the knee like babies?

Will pages crackle as laminates
separate and we stare back red-eyed
as hounds from blind pubs?

Whereas our last few decades
will click past in seconds on a screen,
backlit, cropped and cherry-bright.

There they can find us,
between swipes, catching our breath,
wiping the joy from our sleeves.


Winner of the Oxford Brookes University International Poetry Prize 2019

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