What have I built?

Porch Sitting in Alamo, Texas (Lee Russell, 1939)

I suppose it has something to do with the porch

where I opened the trinket shop, selling lumps 

of gravel and dandelions through the letterbox,

or the cockle shells arranged in a witch’s seance 

along the edges of our rug, inhaling the smell

of settled soot, door shut, waiting for life to happen.

Then something larger – the damp playhouse

under laurel leaves where I scrawled across the walls 

in green – no roads, just trees – and later, two garish

bedrooms in two parents’ houses, the car with no 

door handles, the dorm room’s family of silver fish.

As years went by my architecture got invisible –

things grew from me. Though lately I’ve come back

to the blueprints. Assembled chairs for friends 

who do not visit, built a little porch from matchsticks

and a tube of glue, step by step

stick by stick as if I’d forgotten how already.

Now you ask what I have built and my mouth forms

the shape of nothing. Nothing of consequence.

Published by Ruth Beddow

Poet, writer and heritage professional based in London, UK.

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