House of Chains by Kathy Gardiner

Lady Lassitude is listless;
sits like a thistle
in that same chair,
legs bare.
She asks no questions
and she tells nothing.
Her fingers trail a low table
and flick the dust;
nails yellowed at the tips.
A shoe slips off her dangled foot
but she stays
stayed put.

Little Rue
took the windowseat
and rose early
to get the view.
There she stays
til evening dew,
then lights one candle
with a quick hand
to stand the night
in contemplation.

Her mouth twists
when I speak.
She is neither
yes nor no.
She does not go.
She never arrives.

Glory – for short –
is as statuesque
as her full name.
She keeps the mantel company
and cleans her face
among its faded frames
with a special cloth.

She studies her angles
in the mirror over the fire
and a glass she has to hand.
She warms herself
on yesterday’s coals.

wasn’t in the room
that I could see,
though I could make out
the patches in the wallpaper
she used to peel.
They keep her portrait covered.

Anxiety waits
for the post
to come on silver platter;
twists her handkerchief;
pulls petals absently;
wraps yarn
on her forefinger
til it bulges,
red with pressure
white with restraint.

Selfishness walks the house,
presides at mealtimes
and reads the mail.
She hoards the tidbits
and thinks how she could use them.
She springs her step
over loose boards
and terrorises the staff.

watch them all
through the keyhole.

Kathy Gardiner studied English Lit for the reading lists, but has since escaped to the world of language teaching. From Galway, she now lives in Roscommon (Ireland) where she teaches literacy to adults from Syria. Her work has appeared in Hidden Channel zine.

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