Cushla Managh

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The house with green windowsills

My grandmother lives at Evans Bay
in a white house with green windowsills
and a letterbox shaped like a ship.
I sleep in the spare room with the cat,
orange sheepskin, the macramé owl
and the two foot statue of Jesus.
At night the sailing boats chafe against
their chains and the heaving water bumps
the worn dock; coupling, kissing, then not.
I slide under the sheet, the duvet,
the pink and purple square crocheted spread
and watch Venus rise through the leadlight
windows cutting across the white walls
of the house with the green windowsills,
while my grandmother talks in her sleep.

My grandmother lives above the road
in a council house facing the sea.
I push past the arms pressing, wishing,
the hands looking to hold, the welcome.
Hello, I say, anything to eat,
my mouth tongue teeth already tasting
ginger cake, elsie’s fingers, a slice.
Straw sparrows stare with chipped eyes, their beaks
pecking the greyflecked formica bench,
and I see she’s painted the windows:
stars and Jesus and Father Christmas.
We eat mutton off blue willow plates
and wash the dishes with Sunlight soap,
play Scrabble, fighting over the words.
I sleep in a bed that holds my shape.





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