When they returned, the threats began.
They never said what we had done
but motioned to a stick the thickness
of a thumb, hanging from the mantelpiece.
As the weeks wore on, they swore
our profligacy with fire and light
had forced their families into debt
and for this fecklessness, they withheld rent.
St. Swithin’s Day or thereabouts,
they harked back to the oakum sheds,
the leaden plaques, the yellow candle wax
and taunted us with workhouse tests.
By Lammas, even ones we called
our own would cross the street.
They said we had it coming.
They said we asked for it.
Lindsay Macgregor lives in Fife, co-hosts Platform poetry and music night at Ladybank Station, and reviews poetry collections for Dundee University Review of the Arts (https://dura-dundee.org.uk). She is a recipient of a Scottish Book Trust New Writer’s Award, 2015.