The White House

David Rowbotham

Our White House was a worker’s cottage
In the everlasting village. Chimneys
And children kept away the birds.
It was a town of worker’s words:
Two steps and kitchen calendars,
Wash-house, woodshed, tools and timber,
And the verandah where laughter meets
The pebbled speech of troubled streets.

Quick as longbows catching rainbows,
The roof is raked to scuttle snows and crows.
Stumps shallow for the earth it wades,
The house shuffles up to the mansions:
The scribbling kitchen calendar mentions
No time today for yeoman marches:
No stonewalls, gates, flags, spades.

In our stone age, governed, starved,
Branded slave and thief, we stood.
And they in marble premonitions
Saw their future in the walls of wood
The worker’s White House kept on hiding.

Forgotten marble names are fading
With memorials chiselled by blunt worth.
And the pale colour of earth and absence
And the dark distance of a flash of faith.