The house leans

By | 3 December 2008

The house leans against the icy southwesterlies,
Dreaming itself as one of those pioneer ships threading
Between gnarled cliffs near Glenample & barbed islands,
Running in uncharted waters before five green fathoms
Under a Moon too shy to show even her petticoats:
Something's loose, a panel on the west gable, a roof tile,
Something the second mate should have seen to.
With a pensioner's wheeze and sigh the gas heater fires,
The pillow adjusts itself to my head – the water's cool
As I begin to recite the line, but it slips away:
Night sloshes up and down an empty corridor,
A wonton knot forms in my left leg at midnight,
Something nameless digs deeper into the earth
Shadowed by the crossed arches of joists and bearers,
It sounds like an unwanted guest in the bathroom.
Light leaks under the bedroom door, a cat insists itself
So we shift and make room for this surrogate child
Turning & burrowing under blankets, as if to eat our warmth.
Across the road, a car door slams, someone yells.
Asphalt clicks underfoot as she heads into the fog,
And our river, always the river, slithers out to sea.
Then it's your turn to wake and relate the latest visitation,
How your guardian angel has reappeared, or more likely,
Elvis embraced you by the shoulders and crooned.
We read a dream-dictionary, you cast the runes,
But the walls remain silent, there's no ghost let loose.
Then the line returns, so our hero can step out
Into a grey-eyed dawn, listen to magpies caroling,
Watch the first skein of pelicans move along the valley –
As the house heaves to, loosely rattling anchor-chains.

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