House, you’re just as I left you: crouching on your haunches, lit by a scabrous moon, sheltering the child who squats in your basement amongst the skittering rats, seagulls swooping at your unflinching eyes, the rose gardens splaying before you, flanked by Queen Victoria, cast stolidly in iron, footprints leading from her plinth across to the bellowing sea. It heaves in indigo and molten silvers along the beach made of beer cans, syringes and shifting mounds of pebbles – all serenading you.
I’m walking through your front door. Its unhinged as ever, swinging from its rotted frame. I know where your traps and dead-ends are lurking, my feet find their way in the hissing darkness, up the narrow staircase – a twisted, throbbing space. Your walls squeeze my hips, keeping me upright, propelling me forwards: I’m a bolus stuck in your windpipe.
You regurgitate me into your uppermost chambers, where I once existed at such a shrill pitch, clutching thin air astride a storm-tossing merman, on the surge and swell of these small rooms, beneath your groaning rafters.
Three steps to the mouldering cupboard that hoards my vital part. It’s still hanging in there where I stashed it, but you’ve been pumping it hard. It’s warped and blistered now, the cords I criss-crossed and knotted willy-nilly are blackened and deeply embedded. Gripping my sharpened scissors, I snip the ties that bind me, carefully, one by one. Livid scars are revealed and suppurating ruts – I’ll lick these wounds and wear them, they’ll form a carapace: battle honed armour. I sever the last remaining thread and my treasure thuds into my palms.
House, you’re crashing towards me, flooding from your doorways: a deluge of broken things. But I’ve got what I came for, now let me out.
Penny Jane Goring