Fionnuala Durkan

This House Is Not Haunted

 

This house is not haunted. There is death in the walls and there is poison water drip drip dripping a hole through the ceiling into your brain and there are people you don’t know living under the floorboards but this house is not haunted.

Six hundred people have lived here before you and left their grimy sweat-soaked handprints on the walls and yelled loud enough that their echoes are still trapped between brick and insulation but this house is not haunted.

The man from the letting agency smiles and shakes his head and assures you: there are no ghosts. This house couldn’t be haunted. No one ever stays long enough to die here.

 

Umbilical

 

Miniscule fragile precious thing of soft pink flesh a wailing shivering creature
sucking in the new air of
this great loud

bright
world of urgent
voices and anxious gazes
of strangers the only sound in your
seashell ears is your continuous wail
more a roar of triumph
than a cry of
sorrow
you are here
you are here you are here
but where is she and her soft steady
breathing and the bass drum of her
heart you cling to her
with eager hands
attempting
to reach it before
it stops she reaches back
for now she holds you to her chest
with the halo of moonlight behind
her head gleaming on her blue hospital gown
she is gentle and firm and strong and soothing she is your mother she is your mother she is your mother.

Glowing Windows

 

It was September when I started taking walks in the evening to watch the dusk creep in and cloak everything in a translucent dark-blue mantle.

 

I watched summer disappear under
an impenetrable static fuzz,
a TV drama lost to white noise – Another story I’d never catch the end of.

 

And I wondered how long I could wait and how many chances I could give for next summer to be better than every other that had come before.

 

In October I would go out at night
and glimpse orange houseglow through the windows and try to keep a little of that warmth
for next summer, just in case I’d need it.

Fionnuala Durkan is a writer and (sometimes) artist based in Manchester. Her work mainly explores themes of connection, memory and identity.

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