Saturday, 12 February 2011
This is the House Sophia Built
the stairs of that house, fragile
with age and fear of dry burning ~ Carolyn Forché
As I climb the stairs of this house,
fragile with age and fear of dry burning,
I recognise a familiar ambience
I perceive the old aspirations –
what I thought I wanted
to come home to.
How I anticipated, as I surveyed, measured,
weighed up and planned for our life together,
that I would love and caress every imagined inch.
But I now know, as with questioning footsteps
I stumble through the gloaming, to climb
the stairs of this house, there was no faith in me.
For within months of taking possession
I’d be saying, “I’m so sorry; it’s hopeless.
No matter your potential - how very lovely you could be –
you are beyond me. I do not have the resources
(the time, the energy, the money, the aptitude)
to make you, sing. I regret that history must repeat itself:
that I must give you up, not for another.” Not yet.
This abandoned house is the measure
of all the works in progress I sabotaged,
thought my own deliberate fault.
And I am a foolish virgin, fragile with age and dry burning,
praying not to be extinguished, before the door is locked.
But the attic still stands:
radiant rooms, connected by
low doorways and corridors.
My glorious garret rooms,
naked of décor since 1974, now
hung again with faded ottoman silks,
cushioned with worn antique tapestries,
furnished with chaise longues
and my everlasting soirée guests.
I am home.
(Author’s note: ‘dry burning’ simply means to let the heater run dry of kerosene and extinguish itself).
© Sophia Roberts
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