Commended - 2021 Tower Poetry Competition, 'The Key'


A House With Narrow Windows

The night is starless and wounded,

And streetlights glow like static, stoic fireflies in the dark.

You are swinging my hand like a child as we walk.

You say, There are parts of you that I can’t see. Your windows are very narrow.

I smile wryly and ask, Am I a house?                   


Dawn creeps in like a traitor,

And you and I are Caesar with his back turned.

Ready, unwilling targets.

You say, Wake up. I can see through the curtains.

I groan and ask, Et tu, Brute?


In the day, we are children again,

Or maybe for the first time.

You flick water from the tap at me and I throw my tea towel at you.

You say, You’re very hard to navigate. I keep getting lost in your corridors.

I laugh and ask, Who said you made it past the front door?


Dusk chases away the sun,

And you are all caught up in me.

You are dying to be let into the house that I am so content to keep you out of.

You say, If I am not past the front door, then give me the key.

I sigh and ask, Is it not enough to see me? Must you understand me too?


Time is irrelevant to your obsession.

You don’t respect our routine anymore. There is no rhythm left in us.

You just keep asking and asking and asking.

You ask, Will you give me the key? Will you let me through the door?

I grimace and say nothing.


The truth has gone sour and mouldy in my mouth.

It’s been there too long.

I could try to explain it to you. I won’t.

You ask, Why won’t you let me in?

And I don’t say it, but it’s there on my face.


If I gave you the key, you would unlock me

And you would realise that I am a house

With no furniture and nothing

Inside. I am awfully cold in the winter.