Open 11am to 8pm
Royal Festival Hall (Level 5), Southbank Centre, LondonOpen Tuesday - Sunday from 11am to 8pm
Time to Read
This is my house. My sweat is in the mortar
& hewn wood. This garden of garlic blooms
is mine, too, said last night’s pale ghost.
I know every crack where cold & light
try to sneak in, & where the past tongues
& grooves the future. I own every rusty nail.
This fence wasn’t here when hobnailed boots
marched us into the night. I remember all
the cat-eye marbles would roll to this corner
of the kitchen. This tree limb my uncle cut
to make a witching rod. Here’s the mark
an anniversary candle left on the counter,
said the ghost, slowly fingering
the deep burn like an old wound.
Now, dirt-bike trails crisscross
the apple grove my father planted.
The goat tied beside the back gate
belongs to my progeny of beautiful
goats. You sold the mineral rights
under our feet, but the bird we hear
singing overhead in a Yiddish accent
owns the morning. These roses are mine
because I’ve walked through fire.
Go & tell your drinking buddies
& psychoanalyst, your neighbor
has risen from the ashes. I wonder
if I should tell you about the love letters
hidden behind the doorjamb. This house
still stands among my lavender flowers.
Tell your inheritors to think of me
when they smile up at the sky.
Two soft packets of Marlboro on the sideboard
and she knew he’d arrived.
She lit one, moved to the table
and saw SURPRISE written in spilt sugar.
She couldn’t help thinking of flies.
He was in bed for certain, waiting for her
to join him in pseudo-sleep.
Thinking of his mouth, she almost went upstairs,
but telephoned her sister
and arranged to meet in a Tapas bar.
She added D and a question mark
to his greeting on the table,
picked up his cigarettes
and left the front door open.
At the corner shop on Union Street,
I dosey-doe around a man my age
who’s just popped out for milk.
He scoots back to his door and opens up.
That serrated sound – the house key going home,
the scrappy jangle of the others on the fob –
is how it was when my door opened to another hand.
I would have been behind him with the fish and chips,
some shopping; finishing a phone call as he let us in.
He would push the door closed with one foot,
step unlooking to the kitchen and the coat hook,
throw the keys onto the side.
There’s the lover’s jingle, there’s the key
that opens a house and clicks it into occupancy.