“Dust,” by James Lasdun

We were children here,
biblical siblings,
mauling each other on the cave-floor
of the workshop and the playroom.

Middle-aged now,
together on housework detail:
we roll up the old white living room rug,
lug it out on our shoulders

like the hide of some ancient beast
we’d tracked down in its lair,
sling it up between the fence and the tool-shed,
and lay into it, each with a thick iron bar,

you on one side, me on the other,
slamming it hard, with a thud
and a burst of dust at each blow, the dust
chalking the air till our eyes

smart, and we’re choking and have to stop for it to clear,
then stand there just watching it
floating like some glinting amorphous ghost,
down the garden and over the woods beyond.

This poem first appeared in Little Star #3 (2012)

James Lasdun’s new book Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked has just been published, and he is out and about reading from it and talking about it—at the KGB Bar on February 26, at powerHouse Arena on Feb. 27, and at the Half King on March 11—acquiring, it is to be hoped, only moderately obsessive enthusiasts.

We are among the few, the proud, to think of him mostly as a poet. He is the author of three books of poems, two novels, and four books of stories, most recently, It’s Beginning to Hurt. He has also written several screenplays, including those for the films Sunday and Signs and Wonders.