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Study: A house, two cars, the weight of light on paper
by Dennis Greene
The house. It’s name. La Maison Galopie.
The house was old. That hard grey stony
kind of old that had no number, just its name
in longhand written on a stone, and though
we’d never know just what its strange name
meant, we came to love its ancient stones;
its twisted inside outside stair, its mossy well
that echoed soft, and far beyond our deepest
reach the plop of pebbles.
Life’s touched with love that year. It brushed
grey walls to mark our presence. White.
White daub with blue mixed in to make
the white seem even whiter; rose-coloured
stone around the door; the keystone locked
in past and future, pink, pale pink, the order
of the day: rose quartz against the unseen blue.
You held the door ajar and drew me in.
The hill The bay. The names of places
Sometimes on summer days,
we’d climb the hill behind the house to find
St Pierre-du-Bois spread out in fields below us;
and we would look across Rocquaine to where
the causeway joined L’Eree to Lihou island.
But there was nothing there of ours, a glimpse
perhaps, the view across the wider scene towards
the lighthouse flashing warning of Les Hanois.
But that was everyone’s, and in the end was no-one’s.
Jaffa. The car. The facts of life.
Burnt orange bright, flat-screened love
of your life, the car in which we met and married,
your car not mine, now grazing, out to grass,
eccentric symbol of a life that waited for me
here, then there — self-branded Val d’Isère,
been there done that you’d say today, but not back then,
back then we simply did it. Bright orange Dyane six
still part of everything. Except the future.
The house. The past. The moment gone
Enter a low-beamed hall. Ahead a stair that once
turned out-of-doors, to right the kitchen, set below
the master bedroom, the warmth and winter taken care of:
they brought the livestock in when this was young.
Across the hall, head bumping low, the house
becomes one room, four windows square,
six hundred layered years of papered walls,
of scrapes of paint, of putty knives and hands
that touched the hands of others, that let
the love flow in. It was our turn to lay, re-lay,
to be the cornerstone, to be six hundred years
of dust on hands, to do our bit, to be the loving.
Allegro. Some facts about islands
Gold dust on glaze, an Inca’s dream,
God’s sweat left parked behind the orange Dyane.
It sits in space, what can it do, where can it go?
Our car, my car? It is a car that looked the part
until the day we bought it, brought it home
a Sunday drive along the coastal road
which goes around and round-about,
and brings you back here every 40 minutes.
A tiny, very Guernsey, glimpse of hell.
An island is an island, is an island.
The house.. An old conclusion
Upstairs a hall, three rooms with beds,
three windows, bathroom, storeroom, toilet;
a view that slips down to the sea and
down again until the sea goes up, and up
and out, and we can jump to new conclusions:
a different house; a bigger island;
and just enough of history to speak of.