More than just wood or plaster, houses are alive with their own feelings and dreams. Each room has a story to tell.
NO. 115 DREAMS by Jackie Kay The living room remembers Gran dancing to Count Basie. The kitchen can still hear my aunts fighting on Christmas day. The hall is worried about the loose banister. The small room is troubled by the missing hamster. The toilet particularly dislikes my Grandfather. The wallpaper covers up for the whole family. And No. 115 dreams of lovely houses by the sea. And No. 115 dreams of one night in the country. The stairs are keeping schtum about the broken window. The toilet’s sick of the trapped pipes squealing so. The walls aren’t thick enough for all the screaming. My parent’s bedroom has a bed in a choppy sea. My own bedroom loves the bones of me. My brother’s bedroom needs a different boy. And No. 115 dreams of yellow light, an attic room. And No. 115 dreams of a chimney, a new red roof. And the red roof dreams of robin redbreasts tap dancing on the red dance floor in the open air. ~ from Red, Cherry Red (Bloomsbury, 2019)
Homebody me really enjoyed this poem. I loved learning about the house’s residents and their activities via No. 115’s point of view.
When it comes to houses, we often think of them in terms of our personal memories, not considering how those houses may have felt about themselves or us.
As a word lover, I like to think that the most valuable thing every house retains are all the conversations ever spoken there. Words, phrases, exclamations, random utterances – all lingering in the air over time, becoming part of every room’s DNA. Once spoken, you can’t take your words back; the room has snatched them up for good.
Especially lovely are No. 115’s dreams, lyrically beautiful two line stanzas gently drifting in between the more prosaic details of ordinary life. Oh for those “lovely houses by the sea,” “one night in the country,” or “robin redbreasts tap dancing on the red dance floor in the open air”!
Dreams make life more bearable. Even for houses. Now I’m wondering what my house is dreaming of – charming cottages in the Cotswolds, a teddy bear picnic in the woods, or one night in the Scottish Highlands?
And isn’t “schtum” just the best word? 🙂
Enjoy this video of Jackie reading the poem. Love her Scottish accent.
Lovely and talented Jone MacCulloch is hosting the Roundup today. Drift on over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up around the blogosphere this week. Goodbye, Poetry Month, and Happy Almost May!!
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