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Prologue

Steven Heighton
From:   Ecstasy of Sketpics. House of Anansi Press, 1994.


Divorce was a hooded, shadowy caller
armed with a briefcase instead of a scythe.
Back then he paid house calls to how many
families in our neighbourhood
so come nightfall, bedtime, the brittle, bare
staircase by my room would screech and
jitter and rumble with my fear he would come,
had come, to see us.

                          He never called.

                                                     Yet the stairs
kept creaking, twelve teeth of a saw, jig-
sawing the soft place where I dreamed
into a labyrinth of forks and junctures, seeing my father
was English, my mother Greek
and so different, and though they gave no sign
they would ask Him in, I was afraid

                         that one night gliding past us on his rounds
he would sniff out the hybrid, oddball
energies of our house
and with empty X-ray sockets, home in
on dotted lines of tension in the walls
and with his bony finger pick the locks
               — and my parents, loud
in argument or love, wouldn't hear a thing
till he'd swept up behind and his briefcase had
sprung open like a cobra's jaws
and our lives were vacuumed in.

                                                 Home
for us was no womb but a crucible, a carnival
of masks, mouths carved in every mood
a melting pot full of hail and grapeleaves
that would never boil down to one — to nothing —
or feed the hooded guy.

                                                  Home —
where any table and page is, and I pen them
together in a room again: close the paper
door of the notebook and leave them
face to face,

                        still talking —


Steven Heighton's works copyright © to the author.


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