Matthew Sweeney

Irish poet
WS 2000/01

The House

The house had a dozen bedrooms,
each of them cold, and the wind
battered the windows and blew down
power-lines to leave the house dark.
Rats lived in the foundations,
sending scouts under the stairs
for a year or two, and once
a friendly ghost was glimpsed
at the foot of a bed. Downhill
half a mile was the Atlantic,
with its ration of the drowned --
one of whom visited the house,
carried there on a door.
It hosted dry corpses, too,
with nostrils huge to a child,
but never a murder --
except the lambs bled dry
in the yard outside. Sunlight
never took over the interior,
and after dark the cockroaches
came from under a cupboard
to be eaten by the dog.
Crows were always sitting
on the wires, planning nests
in the chimneys, and a shotgun
sometimes blew a few away.
Neighbours never entered
as often as in other houses,
but it did have a piano upstairs.
And I did grow up there.

Matthew Sweeney

Poems written during the workshop:

Exercise 1: communicating emotion

Exercise 2: metamorphoses