A winner of the Members' Poems competition in the spring issue of Poetry News. The competition, on the theme of 'Territory', was judged by Richard Price. Tess Jolly is also the winner of the Anne Born Prize 2016, judged by Rachael Boast.

The House is Not a House

by Tess Jolly

1. Seen from the top of the ridge, the house is a charm hanging between horseshoe and slipper around my wrist. You marvel at the silver roses carved around a tiny silver door.
 
2. The house opens its mouth when told to. Syrupy light trickles through its teeth. A fairy-tale wind blows a curse through its bones.

3. The house smells of iron as blood smells of iron. Think of the sticks and the straw you say, bring milk for the litter of wolves in your bed.

4. The house is a pantomime. We shout at each other but won’t admit what’s behind us. We dress up as our own worst nightmares, trip over broken plastic flowers.

5. The house is a benchmark. Everything is compared to the house. What used to be fields is now a glass chrysalis. It is twenty pairs of paper shoes moulded to a daughter’s foot.
 
6. The house is not a house. It is a child’s pull-along toy that follows us everywhere.

7. The house is a wishing well. Small hands lift the coins we have thrown out of the water, and count them, and gather them like runes in drawstring purses.

8. The house is an upturned boat. Night after night we lie like this, glad of our shared pocket of air. We tap out strings of code on the fibreglass wall: I imagine the stars treading water, you the floating hubcap of the moon.

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