Jemma Murat

Broken Water

Your mouth is full of the ocean,

it drips down your chin.

Starfish cling to your lips.

You can’t talk to me without

the crabs inside your cheeks

clawing their way down

to the floor, where they scuttle

away with your secrets.

All day long you keep quite,

like a boat, gently rocking in the sea.

Waiting for the storm that hides

underneath your bellybutton.

I’m worried about your swollen stomach,

it could be housing a blue whale,

or a great white shark. It’s fin

is getting closer and, any day now,

the water is going to go over my head.


There were eight flights of stairs

in my grandma’s house.

I dreaded being sent to the top floor

to get cigarettes for my lazy aunts.

Past the endless rooms

that I spent my childhood inside.

When you stepped inside

the thickly carpeted stairs

led the way into the house.

A way into the maze of floors,

each landing housing a different aunt,

a different atmosphere inside every room.

But there was no room!

I was locked up inside,

my life, run by the stairs.

Bouncing around the house,

crawling along the floor,

I couldn’t get away from my crazy aunts.

I found places to hide from my aunts,

behind the banisters, outside their rooms.

underneath the carpet, right inside

the fabric that shaped the stairs.

I became the pulse of the house

living inside the floor-

boards, beating against the floor.

My name lived on the lips on my aunts,

as they wandered outside their rooms.

Little did they know I was inside

each grain, running along the stairs,

playing with the house.

My saviour was it’s vastness, the house.

It was too much effort to race me up its floors

when I refused to run errands for my aunts.

I felt like it’s queen, owner of the rooms,

able to creep around inside

every board that made the stairs.

I loved my grandma’s house. The floors,

my aunts, the rooms. I wish I could live inside

it again. I miss those crazy stairs.

Jemma Murat © 2008