The following was first published in Poetry Monthly.
During the 1950s it was a common sight in England to see men going from door to door with cardboard suitcases offering for sale basic items such as brushes, polish and cloths. This is the story of one such man who called at the door of my house, an ordinary house in the middle of a row of houses:
The Brush Man
A loud knocking at the front door.
'See who it is,' said mam.
He opened the cardboard suitcase
...the scrubbing brushes
...the clothes brushes
...the shoe brushes
The case twitched
and the brushes shook themselves
and fell out
all over the path.
'God save the King!' shouted the man.
He was the pretty girl's best boy
in the Public Schools Brigade.
'Hurry up boys! Fill the ranks! Fill the ranks!' he
Mam came running
brushed flour from her apron