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