What’s the first thing you do
in a house you suspect is haunted?
You sing. Singing somehow
gives you a protective refrain.
Look back over old family films
of your early candled birthdays,
who is always singing loudest?
The grand generations, now dead.
They sang as you grew up, each
year you gained height, weight
while every birthday for them
was just a diminishing return.
It ends with you singing alone
in a house on your birthday –
they are present, as always
yet you sing to ward them away.
RICHIE McCAFFERY (b.1986) is a PhD Carnegie scholar at the University of Glasgow, researching the Scottish poets of World War Two. His poems have appeared in journals such as The Dark Horse, Magma, The Rialto and Stand as well as the anthologies Spinning Plates and Salt’s Best British Poetry 2012. His first pamphlet collection, entitled Spinning Plates, was published by HappenStance Press in March 2012.