Robin Houghton




If this flat were the one and the chain held
and if we fell for ‘String’ by Farrow & Ball –
or ‘Cat’s Paw’, ‘Joa’s White’ or whatever it’s called –
would we strip the ceiling rose and walls,
sweep up dead scraps in a cloud of distemper,
prop coffee cups and lean on ladders feeling
pride in our sense of authenticity, moreover
if you popped the lids off tins revealing
the perfect shade of beige to answer prayers
and if I asked with which hand would you hold
the roller, would you mime the action, pause
to admire this period apartment we’d been sold,
then, changing sides, consider which was best
in mirror-image before pronouncing ‘left’?



Robin Houghton is a communications consultant, trainer and writer. Her work has appeared in many magazines including The Rialto, Agenda, The North, Iota, Poetry News, Mslexia and Ink, Sweat & Tears. She blogs at



  1. I admit to being an admirer of Robin’s, and a follower of her blog, but I sincerely like this poem. I don’t think i quite get it all yet, but that’s OK. But it speaks to me, the last word speaks to me as well as F&B ‘string’. That is my life.

  2. I agree with Meg Cox’s comment. I’m currently reading Michael Ondaatje’s “The Cat’s Table” and am reassured whenever a splendid writer’s words appear to my old eyes. Robin’s poem and earlier posted work here by Abigail Price, Edwina Attlee, amd a good number of others are testament that far beyond my lifetime, splendid work will continue. That’s some comfort, not lulling but at least reassuring. Thanks for posting this good poem — Robin, Helen!

  3. Thank you Meg & James for your kind comments 🙂

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