Paul Durcan

1944 / Dublin

Raymond of the Rooftops

The morning after the night
The roof flew off the house
And our sleeping children narrowly missed
Being decapitated by falling slates,
I asked my husband if he would
Help me put back the roof:
But no - he was too busy at his work
Writing for a women's magazine in London
An Irish fairytale called Raymond of the Rooftops.
Will you have a heart, woman - he bellowed -
Can't you see I am up to my eyes and ears in work,
Breaking my neck to finish Raymond of the Rooftops,
Fighting against time to finish Raymond of the Rooftops,
Putting everything I have got into Raymond of the Rooftops?

Isn't is well for him? Everything he has got!

All I wanted him to do was to stand
For an hour, maybe two hours, three at the most,
At the bottom of the stepladder
And hand me up slates while I slated the roof:
but no - once again I was proving to be the insensitive,
Thoughtless, feckless even, wife of the artist.
There was I up to my fat, raw knees in rainwater
Worrying him about the hole in our roof
While he was up to his neck in Raymond of the Rooftops.
Will you have a heart, woman - he bellowed -
Can't you see I am up to my eyes and ears in work,
Breaking my neck to finish Raymond of the Rooftops,
Fighting against time to finish Raymond of the Rooftops,
Putting everything I have got into Raymond of the Rooftops?

Isn't it well for him? Everything he has got!
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