For Such a Long Time, I Was Afraid of Windows

Before I could leave the house, I would peep round frames, take deep breaths behind the door, hand on knob, straining through the wood for outside sounds. No wonder my skin hates me. It prickles. It has held my bones together like a purse for all these years and I have itched inside it, pulled it, squeezed it, scratched it. Moulded it round allergic hands. It has had a tough job of keeping me together. I still dream of flying from it – of unzipping my skeleton, letting loose the ivory bundle of bones, limbs shaken loose. This suit of flesh belongs to me. It could have belonged to someone beautiful, been caressed. It could have belonged to an angel, under the buff of feathers, but no. It’s mine. I have no seams. I look and pick and yet remain un-split.

I remember when I never had a home. Six and a half years and then well, sorry and all but there’s someone else. Then you are putting milk pans, clothes and photographs in bin bags. I never had much money. I didn’t know what to do. I was young – the man I loved wanted me out a.s.a.p. and I simply didn’t know where I was meant to go nor how I was going to afford it. People can be so cold. They can decide overnight that they want you to be gone and you wish you could disappear. Friends you thought you had turn their backs. This is how easy it happens.

I washed my knickers in sinks and wished for showers – kept away from glass. Someone will see you. Someone will find out what you are.

I kept very little from back then except my weakness for knick-knacks. Crocks, glass, mantelpiece maidens – I love to think of them as coryphées in porcelain troupes. People comment on them, say that they couldn’t be doing with the dust but I want to do this polishing, make focal points of warmth and welcome, building years about them – they are a signifier that everything is staying put. Finding them, upturned in bargain buckets, I buy the history of someone else.

I am a scrimshandrix. I use my nails – press them in, follow my fate lines with sharpness. Always typhlobasia. The eyes are another mirror and I do not want to see how much I am asking you to love me. I tell myself that windows are portholes to other dimensions – this one to a parlour, with shelves of sherry glasses. This one to linoleum – I see the sink where I am bleaching cups. The last one squares between me and the open air. I hear the silence of the night.


About the author:

Jane Burn is a North East-based artist and writer originally from South Yorkshire. Her poems have been featured in magazines such as The Rialto, Under The Radar, Butcher’s Dog, Iota Poetry, And Other Poems, The Black Light Engine Room and many more, as well as anthologies from the Emma Press, Beautiful Dragons, Poetry Box and Kind of a Hurricane Press. Her pamphlets include Fat Around the Middle, published by Talking Pen and Tongues of Fire published by the BLER Press. Her first full collection, nothing more to it than bubbles, has been published by Indigo Dreams. She also established the poetry site The Fat Damsel.