An open door leads us into an abandoned bathroom.

No towels or curtains, no flannels or soap.

1930s white tiles speak of utility.

An Art Deco pedestal basin leans drunkenly and uncertainly.

An empty towel holder expresses loss.

A small casement window lets in dirty sunlight

reflected in a mirror onto the door.

The door is only partially open –

I cannot see the whole room.


There will be a cast iron roll-top behind the door,

with iron stains from the huge taps.

There will be a wire soap dish.

There will be Ajax standing guard.

I can smell the damp, the flat odour of Lifebuoy,

the roady tang of Wright’s Coal Tar.

The water will be tepid. The floor will be cold.


A response to ‘Rain in June’ by John Bratby 1961 seen at the Jerwood.


Charlie Bell is a writing tutor and poet living and working around Tunbridge Wells. As well as teaching for Adult Education and the University of Kent, he works in community settings with disadvantaged groups. He is currently collecting together several pamphlets of poetry. He can be found at www.writing-hut.com.

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