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I was seven when we moved to 12 Bridge Court & we had to climb
eighty-four steps – seven flights of twelve steps each – to our top-
floor two-bedroom flat & the main road was rowdy with heavy
lorries & a sewing factory took up all the ground floor & on rare
summer days they’d leave the metal doors propped open & you
could see machinists – all women with their hidden lives – hunched
tight over their work & next to the block of flats was a big Gaumont
cinema where we lined up on Saturday mornings to sit in the dark
watch cowboy serials & cartoons “Look behind you” we booed
when the villain slunk toward our hero of the wide-brimmed hat
& perfect profile & we cheered when he saved the blondest girl
from an oncoming train & we sucked on sherbet lemon sweets
bought in white paper bags from the corner shop & whatever time
I went back home the door between the street & the hallway closed
out all the light & I could smell the fish from someone’s last night’s
dinner & the dankness coming from the green stone walls & wanted
so much not to hear loud voices coming from my flat & on each
landing was a timer button for the light which was supposed to hold
until you reached the button on the next landing – but if you dawdled
even just a bit you were sunk in total darkness scared to the bone
of whatever lay in wait for you.

 


Susan Kress was born and educated in England and now resides in Saratoga Springs, New York, after a long career teaching at Skidmore College. She has poems forthcoming or published in Salmagundi, New Letters, La Presa, Passager, 3Elements Review, Adanna, Persimmon Tree, and Minerva Rising.

© 2019, by Susan Kress

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