The Murder House

6 months ago 81

Even the estate agent tried to dissuade you.
The soundproof vault, the staircases leading
to nowhere, the firebrick kiln in the basement
with the scent of a surgeon’s suite

not to mention your raccoon-eyed landlord
jangling all night around the strip-lit corridors
with an ogre’s fist of keys hanging from his belt,
whistling whilst stacking Sellotaped towers

of meaty Tupperware into multiple chest freezers
but you said the rent was reasonable and moved
straight in. When I visited, your hair already
smelt of formaldehyde and something else

unplaceable but you said you “quite liked it”
plus, the police had “found nothing”. And when I
asked why a house needed twenty-seven chimneys,
you just blinked and accused me of “being dramatic”.

After a while you stopped entertaining guests.
When I knocked, you slid the chain, claiming
to be towel-wrapped and fresh from the shower
although twice I saw your shoe in the door

and when I’d shout through the letterbox
“Sweetheart. Please. You’re living in a murder house!”
you’d simply reply “Then why aren’t I dead?”
and pad softly away on your transparent legs.

Caroline Bird’s Rookie: Selected Poems appeared in 2022

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