Rory Waterman

Dr Rory Waterman‘s recent research centres on notions of belonging and estrangement in 20th Century British poetry. This extract from his work troubles the border between the heimlich and the unheimlich, or the homely and the unhomely. Collapsing the distance between safety and threat, it evokes at once both an American suburban idyll and a horror hidden in plain sight.

West Summerdale Ave

From Tonight the Summer’s Over (Manchester: Carcanet, 2013)


The sprinkler slashes its crest across your lawn
and back again, and slashes its crest across
and back again, and slashes its crest across…
Your cat, beyond it, knits the air and yawns
a dislocated yawn, and from the tree
the nesting-box flobs out a fluttering wren.
We hear the ice-cream van come round again
and over the road a clown returns from a party.


Suburban American houses aren’t built to last.
Wall-panels fell each time the digger struck
and soon the plot was a square of treacled muck.
What it had meant was buried in the past,
was laid to rest, by being turned to air.
And now a newer home is standing there.


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