On Good Days
On good days, the voices were quiet.
He’d fumble the razor, indulge in muttered
early morning profanities, yet still wear
his hope like an old boxer’s dressing gown.
Water cascading over knotted hands,
temperature rising as the boiler kicked in,
he’d tickle the soap trout like a novice,
splashing water over threadbare slippers.
Thin ribbons of steam wafting upwards,
enfolding the air, would draw him towards
the mirror like an opponent’s face drifting
into focus, as abused senses slowly sharpened.
And noticing rain, he’d open the window,
listen, breathe, let the irritations abate,
feel the control return, while in the glass,
his reflection slowly misted over.
He might wipe the condensation away, look
for memories, distort the image, try to summon
different eyes, willing someone else
to the mirror than the one expected.
But on bad days, on days where the reflection
remained obscured, through early morning mist,
the eyes would have no hope;
he would wait for the voices to return.
Jonathan Humble is a teacher in Cumbria. He writes poetry and short stories. His stuff can be found in a number of different publications and on his poetry blogs ( https://jhpoetry.blogspot.co.uk and https://northernjim.wordpress.com ).