A narrow path connected our road and
mysterious Love Lane - the road that bragged
thee claims to fame and glory: first of all,
it was the home of Death himself. (My best
friend's name was Death - De'ath, of course,
but no one called him that. To all our friends
and neighbours, my best friend was Death.)
But more: Love Lane possessed the residence
of Grim, the local chimney sweep. There too,
the brooding, dark, and lovely-to-some, but
to the rest, the reeking, foul, exhaling gas works.
But the sweep was the great star of stars. He sat
outside his cottage, face encrusted black,
his eyes pure white, like headlamps in the night,
his small clay pipe a fury of red sparks,
he blowing miracles of smoke from every pore.
(The gas works at full blast could not compete.)
You had to brave the fumes to book his call.
He'd write you in his diary in cultured hand.
His visit was the highlight of the week - with me
dispatched to sit beneath the apple tree
to wait for the appearance of his broom -
and to report the same tout de suite. And did
I see the soot that he shook from it? And
how much soot, a great deal or a little?
And then the bag of soot that he he'd collected
from our chimney, he would try to sell to mum
or gran: God's own for the garden missus!
he would say, but never made the sale that I recall.
This is #11 in my Suburban Village Series.
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