Vacancies

Each week, new souls troop in
and make it theirs,
arriving in the dark with the
flicker of a torch
looking for keys and instructions

Nothing for the first two days,
they rise, assuming form,
on the third morning
stretching out into the grounds,
the salt air, the sea itself

Unravelling like bundles of wool, or nerves,
raising voices into laughter,
a pattern so unchanging
that I took it that they must be
following orders

Except once, when I was up
repairing the fence on the cliff
with galvanised wire
and heard the phone ring
for what seemed an eternity

Within an hour they’d packed and gone,
these unseen arrivals,
abandoning their post,
advancing or retreating
to who knows where, or why.

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