Academic journal article Hecate

Archaeology of a House

Academic journal article Hecate

Archaeology of a House

Article excerpt

I

The house aches,

all its blue rooms echoing

a phantom pain.

The window glass melts,

becomes a framed

suspension of tears.

The lath and plaster cracks,

a web of fault-lines

widening while we sleep.

II

The week we moved in

the chimney trapped a swarm

of bees. Their whining finally

stopped, but escapees left gold

blood on the calico curtains

and the marbled wallpaper,

stains that wouldn't rub away.

Days after, ants still tracked

through gaps in the panelling

feeding on honeyed dust.

They weren't the first deaths.

Evidence of others sifted

into rooms, like an accretion

of flaked skin. Its weight

skewed the foundations

the verandah slipped, the roof sagged,

the house might slide at any moment

down the hill, tipping over

rock ledges and drystone walls,

snagged at by rose thorns, clawed

by the twisted willow.

III

Letters arrive - but there's no

forwarding address for Sandra.

The growth was already rooted

in her breast before she left.

Nor for Rosalind whose madness tore

her children from her grasp.

They shadow me

through the unrenovated rooms

and into the garden's unrecovered

corners where grape hyacinth

and hypericum compete with wild

agapanthus blades. I weed

the same beds, pick nectarines

and plums from trees that bent

low for them. I sweep the same

cracked paths, prune their roses.

Sometimes footsteps echo

in the hall, or is it a host of bees

trapped in the house timbers

sobbing to get out?

IV

Sandra, Rosalind and I

search out the history of the house.

We add our own stories,

push back the dark wood and bring in

the sky. We mark the territory

with our female scent,

our lead-light patterned lives.

We let the blossom-stained air

mask the unease

that we might one day stumble

on a Bluebeard's den, beneath

the decades of paper and paint.

Under the house, low-ceilinged spaces

narrow into tombs for rats,

marsupial bones, bent nails, buttons,

old bottles and broken-handled tools. …

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