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