Old House

by Alex Dally MacFarlane

Old house, close your jaw.
I am no maiden, ignorant of a man's needs
and empty of mind. I know the wolf
in his fur-coat, his grandmother-dress
and his house-shirt. Your hunger is
written plain in crumbling bricks and
peeling paint and in your door, open
just wide enough to tempt. But
how many maidens will I find inside,
hanging carpet-wrapped (little cocoon-feasts)?
And how many bones will I find inside,
white jigsaws (with a thousand solutions)?
Old house, close your jaw.
My sun-brown limbs are not for you,
my dress will not digest. I have
no desire to see your stomach, maiden-lined
and warm. I am not here to step inside,
sacrificial, head held high even as you
tear me asunder, emissary from the town that
loses daughters like crippled lambs to a wolf.
Old house, close your jaw.
Admit only light through your clouded panes,
illuminate my sisters hanging from your walls
like mannequins. Admit only light
and crack open a window, just a little--
yes, like that, coquettish--and now admit
my words. I took lessons on a dusty roadside--
a wizened woman whispered the how and
I listened, rapt, and copied her tongue
like a girl tracing images and calling
them her own. Admit my words
and obey:
Old house, close your jaw.

Alex Dally MacFarlane has been writing ever since the discovery of computer games made her think that if stories could be found on a 32-bit cartridge, why not in the mind of an eleven-year-old girl? Now she has graduated from King's College London with a BA in War Studies & History and has a job copy-editing nonfiction. Her short fiction has sold to magazines including Shimmer, Sybil's Garage and Farrago's Wainscot and to the Sporty Spec anthology from Raven Electrick Ink. "Old House" is the first poem she has written that she didn't feel an overwhelming urge to throw in the bin.

Her favourite fruit is passionfruit.

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