Dominic James: The Architect's Dog

An architect in check bow tie
In the study of his Georgian home
explained tonight, the terraced house
is not built to stand alone,
it shifts and leans against its neighbours.

The dog rests a gentle head upon its master’s knee:
we pause, the architect looks down into those
deep brown eyes: man’s best friend, his companion.

If it did not collapse
within the first, say, 20 years
such a house might last forever:
of course, it cracks and groans,
but one gets used to that.
The architect lifted his tumbler, took a swig
and looked brightly into the lens at which point
we heard a heavy joist contract.

His dog too cocked an ear. Good dog.
Good host. Though no-one feared
the house would crash on creaks tonight
or with the attic’s moan, our sympathetic compact was,
each of us, with the dog’s belief in thieves and ghosts.