Saturday, 21 January 2017

Prompt 21: We Lost Our Home Because Of My Bastard Lover

21. Foreclosure: Write a poem or short story about someone who has lost or is about to lose their home.

Written in the Wolfson Reading Room, Manchester Central Library.  It's good to be back here.  It's easy to concentrate here even though every sound echoes like gunfire.  A couple of dozen people share the room, all engrossed in their writing, study, reading.  This place has advantages over sitting in the Lit & Phil Library's silent room.  The lighting is better.  There's no ticking clock.  The atmosphere is easier.  And there's that big advantage:  I don't have to pay a membership charge to sit here or to link to WiFi.

I do love this room.  Bringing a cushion with me would improve it even more!  However, the room has one major disadvantage.  One insurmountable disadvantage.  It's in Manchester.  And I don't live in Manchester.  How I wish there was a space just like this where I live.  But there isn't.

Never mind.  I am here this morning.  And all is well.

That is a photo of one of the bedroom's in my parents' home.  It's where I grew up.  It's where they lived for over forty years.  The photo was taken last year, on the morning of the day I left the house for the final time.  A very different situation to that in the poem below.  I can't claim it to be free-written like yesterday's story.

Ten years, three layers of paint.
Each curtain, carpet lovingly replaced
Chosen with care, with smiling faces,
With all the excitement of making this ours.
Children's heights on door frames
That dent in the wall we made and never repaired
The way the sun fills us in the evening
And leaves us cold in the morning.
The sound of feet stamping on the stairs
The way the floor creaks there and there
As we creep on tiptoe at night
Knowing we will never truly be silent.

This was the dream of a better life
And how we hugged and kissed
When we signed the papers
When this oasis became our home.
They were born here, screamed at night,
weaned and walked, trained and talked.
They watched silent as we screamed too
Marital bliss over in a thousand resentments.
They helped as the paint he chose was refreshed
New colours, husbandless, helpless for a time.

Now they are more afraid than I.
All they ever knew will be gone tomorrow.
He called it fucked up, unjust, unfair,
Settlement said pay but he refused.
Support payments gone and with them the dream.
Mortgage arrears, tears, pleading, help us,
They're you're children too, can't you love them?
Big piece of shit, carbuncle, wart on the earth.

How can it be that I, blinded lover,
Enjoyed it each time I kissed shit,
Looked forward, dreamed, imagined each time
We made love and he called me his angel, his diadem.
I screwed a carbuncle and I'd repent, regret
But for the purity of my two poor souls
Crying, crying both soaking a shoulder.
What can I do?  What can I say?
This night's reassurances sound
More like the steps of the pall bearers.

One more night.  Once more on this sofa shared.
And then they come.  Men to remove us.
Men to remove our possessions, lock them away.
All because of one man.  My bastard lover
Who deserves to die, to rot in the worst of jails.
Pressing feet into pale petals, red fire fibres,
I remember the day the lounge carpet was laid,
How we lay together on the floor, held tight,
Naked and uncaring about what was right.
Each thread still soft yet stinging.
Stings and arrows are all tonight.

Tomorrow is tomorrow.
Another homeless family.  Another statistic.
A pity case, new scroungers for the gutter press.
Headlines, breadlines.  Food banks, benefits.
New start, no shame.  Tonight we cry,
I promise you this: Tomorrow we will sing
With generations of the underclasses
That we shall overcome.  Some day.

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