Sunday, 15 June 2014

The Attic

I no longer feel at home in my parent's house. The curves of the new facade and balustrade are unfamiliar.  My old room at the top of the house seems closer, the ceilings lower; foreign boxes have started to creep across the lines. The space is halved and things left behind are now piled and ignored in the furthest corner. There’s a bed neatly made, waiting for guests, and my old chest; the drawers full of secrets, rejected then hoarded, netted penance dragged above the waterfall. The other corner is full of boxes of books and a rack of polythene-sealed coats.    
      I sit below the skylight, a kitten scratching the fraying fibres of my jumper. I push her away and pull out a pine drawer stuffed full of old notebooks, poems that rhyme, stories that don’t end or end too soon in a misty swoon. The drawer below reveals another relic; a red ponytail, curled up like a weasel on a bed of moth-eaten, canary-yellow dress. I touch the hair and wonder what made me keep such an item. The pressure of my fingertips begins to unbind the hair from its elastic band and they start to split like little electric copper wires. I close the drawer.
     Under the bed is a world of shoes and photographs; old shoes with bitten soles, curling laces and ripped fabric and albums of faces, landscapes, rabbit hutches hidden in paper and plastic cases. It’s dusty under the bed so I pull open the sky light and let the room fill with the sound of bird song and motorway ballad.
     Along the outside of my room are two antechambers. Behind the prefab walls are more things, older relics- sewing machines, cuddly toys, dinner services- waiting like an impatient mother-in-law to find a new purpose, a reprisal of their original form. Then the husk of a wasp nest, perfectly preserved in a chemical death.
     It seems fitting that not only is the room full of my cast-offs but also the strange un-keepings of several generations; familial clutter and inherited sentiment. Objects abandoned by death and emigration. The only thing of real value to me is the glossy painted Russian doll that reminds me of my grandmother. She has the same black hair and kindly smile.
That endless entity has long since been appropriated to a glass cabinet downstairs. The hope is that feeling and memory can be caught between glass panes but her embroidered scarf and pretty painted face conceal the impenetrable kernel within.