(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

BooksOctober 22, 2021

The Friday Poem: Life Used To Be So Hard, by Sarah Lawrence

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

A new poem by Wellington poet Sarah Lawrence.

Life Used To Be So Hard

Picture half a house, veins open & splayed out from the rafters. Two cats in the yard, like the song. Plums. Picture history, your imaginary friend, history that crashed its stone through this window when I was a whispered breath in the ache between two hands & before & before. Here is a civilisation you built. Here we teemed as maggots in the belly of a bird & here we snuggled in blanket nests to reality TV & here you had to learn how to love me over & over & I have slammed every door in this house: this house which eavesdropped on every apology I have ever made & this house where we cried & cried & cried & cried. O you, you house of cards, O you, my home built on stolen land, O my cresting wave, there are things which were not perfect about you. First wallpaper. Then whole rooms. Now I take photographs of the stump of a cherry tree I once wrote a letter to, thinking it would answer. To renovate is a process of acceptance. Here is a civilisation you built. One morning we found the whole body of a previous house cat, crawled cold & shrinking through a vent & deep into the undergrowth to be dragged from the rubble at sunrise an age away, cracked & awkward, naked to the bone. Will you dance? Will you picture the honeysuckle creeping thick through the years & defeating every bad paint job that ever lived? This house is named Entry in a language you do not speak & to enter is what you have always done… into portaloos & the book of family passwords, into someone else’s leftovers in the fridge, into whole new streets & outer space & space in the crook of my elbow, into Rome, into the frying pan, into places where you do not belong & then do. Today I turned a corner to tell you I’m reading that book you always talked about & you weren’t there. Here is a civilisation you built. Here I will renovate the five stages of grief, find new things to deny & deny until I am ascetic & tin hat & screeching, tearing down the staircase like a mad wife while the world turns & turns & would you please picture me magnificent, molten-eyed with hair splayed out & wild, ripping every curtain from its rail & throwing matches high into the rafters to stick & bloom as it burns & burns & burns & burns & burns


Note on title: ‘Our House’, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Déjà Vu, 1970.


The Friday Poem is edited by Chris Tse. Submissions are currently closed and will open again soon.

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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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