The Secret House

When I walk my dog, I take the same route
Every day at the same time,
Up the road, across the busy street
And straight on to the park.
On our way we pass a house
Hidden behind trees and shrubs, the gate
Overgrown and almost lost amid the luscious bushes.

This gate is closed, the path up to the door
Kept clear of leaves, flagstones shimmering
In the twilight of the fecund green.
The door itself a postern,
On the back of a little, castellated tower,
Ready to fend off any intruder
With its sharp, white teeth.

All this I know from a quick look
While the dog keeps straining towards the park
And a sense of prying keeps me moving forward.
On the way back, I find the curtains
Drawn shut on the upper rooms,
The grand old Norman window melting
Into the grey stone walls.

A tended house but whose home I could not guess.
A house with curtains drawn on time,
Battlements to defy the world, an eyrie to observe it from,
And bushes left to grow abundantly,
Placing the sun dial for ever out of reach,
Too far for the timekeeper to ever have his say.

The other day I was too early,
Or too late, to see the curtains drawn
And walking past the house
I saw illuminated rooms filled
With the marvels of the world.
With books and globes,
Scales, cabinets full of curiosities,
Frames full of faces, each telling
Most wonderful stories. I paused
To take in the whole enchanted scene.

Then the door, the postern, opened
And weaving in and out of wilderness
Snatching at her in every shade of green
A woman strode full of purpose towards
The gate where I had come to stand.

She looked like Katherine Hepburn,
The hair, the face, the straight long legs,
Still fit in old age and the eyes,
They must have been of startling blue,
I’d swear to it but I had turned away
And stumbled on, my little dog lagging behind.

Turning my head I caught another glimpse
Of the beautiful woman emptying
The mailbox, hunting for news.
Moments later she was gone,
The curtains drawn, the world inside
Unreachable for time, for me.

My daily walks are different now.
We go a different way at different times,
And different houses flash their interiors at us.
I don’t think I could bear a secret house and
Hidden treasures I cannot see again, not see again
That from which I’m bared out of necessity.

© jsmorgane (March 2012)


A Woman and a Boy in a Box: rehearsing ‘The Turn of the Screw’

Her look, a muted moan, brimful with self-mockery, doubt,
Searching above my brow, never meets my eyes.
The smell of fear obscured by some pastille perfume,
Pervading the very air I breathe.

Sharp eyebrows thundering,
Her anger tears the fabric of illusion;
Then – after a moment’s hesitation – it is sealed again,
Leaving searing scars somewhere deep.

I turn, I bow, I kneel, I freeze,
Let the storm blow over my bent head,
My scourged shoulders stinging with the echo of the pain
Hidden in her half-turned face.

She smoothes back her hair, controlled again – spent?
Takes her hat and coat, snuffs out the candle.
One step, two, she is out of the box, gone.
The only remains inside: her scent, and I – suffocating in the dark.

© jsmorgane


“It always rains when you take out the rubbish!”

Maybe so, but I never do take it out.
I consume, I fill the bins,
And she takes them out.
While she wheels out the bins,
Heaves the bags and the boxes over the wall,
I watch from inside, suddenly reminded of her mother,
The image of her before me.
The little untried girl dissolves in the rain,
And I face a woman challenging the world
By taking out the rubbish.

© jsmorgane (2005)

Published in: on March 4, 2012 at 10:25 pm  Comments (1)  
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