Houses by Ingrid Casey

Are the first thing you draw. Obsession with
ownership, a rare Irish thing. I did not partake,
so fell foul of a crushing system. I have rented
seven places, each move excruciating. For a time
I dreamt of haunted houses, my mother dreams of
new rooms in her house since she started to paint.
No matter that I make homes, women’s labour is
squared against male landlords. The one who came
back from overseas owned four, put out the family
to suit his himself, to suit his wealth, to suit his power.
What do you put in a house? Your rest, your love, your
dreams. Your daily tasks, epic milestones. Bank ads
show home owners at the ends of mortgages like ageing
gladiators; but I too, have slain dark creatures, have clung
on to cliffs, shoo’d away pervy milkmen, all manner of
cliché to keep myself alive, my children safe from the dark.

I had stone walls at the back of the Avenue, and elderflower
champagne made from blooms he jumped up to collect, my
laugh like bubbles. Before that I had a yard and crazy landlady
who stuck her foot in the door on Christmas morning, like a cartoon
witch. I had neighbours with apple trees, I planted some and pears
too, and a cherry blossom. I had a good landlord there who helped
cut grass, change locks, lay floors and thought of me as a daughter.
But the house was annexed, the Criminal lived next door, the lab
technician from the Neva delta upstairs, he’d leer at me as I hung out
clothes, they were danerous men. That was when we had a trampoline
and my bedroom was a triangle and I learned about how love
can speak in colours and put my chakras together like lego, a
wet night when I frightened myself, it was sublime it was made to
happen.

Before that I lived in a fake bungalow,
part of a set of four, there was a Dalmatian with a human name, and
people from Georgia who explained that the wolves attacked the villages
in Dagestan because of the military messing with the landscape. There I
put in swings, bought an easel. Another time, after I met the Gambler, I
tried to live in a proper house, decorated with teal and brown it was manly
and I did not belong there, with the blanched houses and doughy faced
commuters. This was when things came undone and the silverfish swam
through paper cracks and I started to lose my life, while producing babies,
like looking at wheels revolving in reverse, a trick. The haunted house
dreams started, the Man ran away, the eviction, the move to another town.

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