Pat Winslow

Marvellous how the house builds itself
and knocks itself into shape,
how water pipes chug into place
and snug close behind the cupboards.

The arthritic stairs rear up,
creaking and groaning.
Boards slat flatways on top of risers
all the way to the attic.

Doors stand tall. Each room defines itself.
Cracks and bumps slot themselves in.
The plaster goes on layer by layer.
Skirts and architraves grip the wall.

Carpet rods nail themselves down.
Wallpaper sheets butt up to each other.
Paint slaps itself on, sockets dig themselves in
and cables branch out like veins.

Clever how time asserts itself before
the clock arrives on the bedside table.
And now comes colour. It's like those films
where monochrome past becomes full-blown Fuji.

It's a bleeding in, a bulking up.
And here's me last of all,
shaping myself in bed, pulling my skin on,
feeling it snub my fingers and toes. Careful.

Here are my feet and here's my face, my tongue,
the arch of my back, my fists, my mouth,
the whole of me, stretching and reaching out
and drawing back the curtains.

Pat Winslow

Photograph: Helen Kitchen

Pat Winslow lives in Oxfordshire. She worked for twelve years as an actor and left the theatre in 1987 to take up writing.

Her poetry collections include The Girl in the Iron Lung (Crocus), The Fact of an Eye (Amazing Colossal) and Harvest (Jackson's Arm). She was anthologized in Not for the Academy (Onlywomen Press). Her short fiction has also been widely published. She is currently working on a novel.

She was the first winner of the Blinking Eye poetry competition, run by Jeanne Macdonald (herself published by Diamond Twig). You can read another two of her poems on the Blinking Eye website as well as buying a copy of Skin and Dust, the collection that includes this poem.

This poem has also been anthologised in The Poetry Cure, which is published by Bloodaxe Books on 28th April.

She is a member of Oxford's Back Room Poets.

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Rise © 2004 Pat Winslow: used with permission.
Copyright of this poem remains with the poet: please do not download or republish without permission.

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This page last updated 31st March 2005