Commended - 2021 Tower Poetry Competition, 'The Key'



My father would hoard all the keys in the house,

Whichever house, from the Mediterranean to the North Sea,

A collection of all the lives we have lived, a medley.

The key, he says with a smile, or he would if we spoke the same language,

The key, he says, is to make your edges sharper, your borders straighter,

It is to be cut out with blades of a machine, sparking with heat.


But what even am I without my walls falling apart?

I am so soft, mutable, built like a master key

From the chaos I was born in. That is what I am meant to be

Or some sort of room without a door.

I come from him, so I must know what I am doing

But I also come from people who never know where the keys are.


I come from witches and people you would hide in the top shelf,

Broken trinkets that are pretty until the second glance

Hiding away from a culture that prides itself in its structure

And sharp edges that cut people like me.

So I sit back, watching from by bed the chaos I have created


With my own two hands. And I can’t help but think,

Think to myself in the middle of my sleep,

Where did I put my keys this time?