March 05, 2007

This is the house I find myself in


These apartments are all beautifully maintained.

One of them is in my husband’s name.

I saunter away along the top floor

& see the old woman

with grease baked onto her gas cooker.

I did know other people would be living here:

it stands to reason.

She does have a window &

she gazes out at the brick wall, stubbornly.

There is a much better view from the other side

of the building.

I don’t remember these stairs. Pitched steeply,

winding back on themselves, leading nowhere

purposefully. Likely back stairs for servants

But there are no servants. Any more.

The old man

takes a shower in his jerry-built bathroom.

His haunches twitch. He soaps between his legs.

Why does everyone

leave their door open? I don’t want to have to see into their rooms.

At last! The main staircase with that insolent, laconic curve.

& this friend of a friend

strides past me, three treads at a time – before I can find

breath to speak. Or lift a hand. He has come to live here:

found this house. He doesn’t seem to know I live here too.

We all live here. Well well. We’ll meet in the rose garden

adjacent to the fountain. Or he will reach for the knocker

to let it fall & boom inside the entrance hall as I approach

the porte-cochère.

He’ll turn and say – It’s you!

This is the staircase I have been looking for.

A cunning flight of stairs behind a secret door.

& here is my room after all. Four walls. But -

When I wake up I still believe in this house

my room: I plan to furnish it. & what to write.


—Jennifer Compton


from Parker & Quink (Ginninderra Press, 2004)




Posted by dwaber at March 5, 2007 11:41 AM