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.