A memory room – first draft

I’m at the top of the stairs, hand on the cold wooden bannisters, chill air swirling round my legs. Long way down. On my own, away from home, no memorylayers here. Overview, over heads, flowers on green grass play beneath my bare feet. Wriggling toes dart from under my night dress.

Adults downstairs, outside, elsewhere. I don’t know why I’m here, so much I don’t know. Grannie loves me, that I know, safe here.

“She’s had it.”


“Another girl,” drifts up the stairs.

Dig my toes in the carpet, listen. Shouldn’t be there, where’s mum, grip the wood and wait for someone to notice me as the smell of toast rises.


Slip three years, another house, another bannister, white paint, top of the stairs legs furled against the cold, mix of perfume, wine and smoke rises, dinner party, we tasted the chocolate mousse.

Louise and I, top of the stairs, shouldn’t be there, carpet rough against my thighs, heap of fur coats on the hall, clatter of silver, of glass.

“We have to hide if someone comes out,” I tell her, skirl of white nightdresses as we giggle our way back to our room. Heavy footsteps on the stairs, “Go to sleep, girls, go to sleep.”


Too tall now, no bannisters in this flat, no chance to look down on the adult world because I’m in there, part of it, and I miss being small, loss of secrets, loss of looking on, curled up in the back of the car, stories in my head, night darkening as my father drives us home.

For the Book Analyst writing group challenge

Experimental Writing: Haiku form

More explanation. I went to a creative writing workshop based on the exhibition, Observations. It was run by Tempo arts and facilitated by Ian Monk, a member of the Oulipo group. (See last week’s post if you want to know more about Oulipo and why I’m interested in it.)

Ian asked us to write 3 lines, in the centre of the page, inspired by one picture from the exhibition, in haiku form, 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables. He then asked us to expand, up and down, as if we were looking outside the frame of the picture.



in the beginning

sun on water, salt and earth

protozoa crawl


oil slick skin keep me safe whole

from water we come

and from water we are made


and in that moment

waves stull, black ice crystals form

eyes mouth full. I drown


gasp inhale brine my lungs

surface. Air once more

exhausting oscillation

a choice. My choice? No.

I’m drawn to where I came from

body dissipates


At this point we were asked to leave our poems on the table and walk round and take 3 lines from someone else’s poem:



Phoenix In Fire Background Photo by fotographic1980 via http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Crack. Dark. Swamp leaf earth mould egg

a dragon is born

small spark wavers wavers falls

le mer violant

exhales mille drunken kisses

smelting sea to gold

en or I watch him arise

phoenix wing spread burns

destruction dragonified


This was a useful exercise following on from the first experimental writing workshop, again forcing me to discard my habitual choice of words to fit a constraint.