Grey House

By Christos Floratos

Mommy asked me what I thought

of the Grey House.

So tall. Was all ours. Spring was a few seconds away.

Earth to sky. You could even see the clouds pass on by.

Mommy smiled when I jumped in glee.

 

Mommy asked me where the sky ended.

Why, at the top of our Grey House, of course!

And that’s where we went.

Right to the top, gazing where fans swirled, and birds lost all their feathers.

Mommy laughed when I said mine was what the light touched.

 

But the darkness was Mom’s own.

She had raged warfare before but nothing as

the campaign she waged on the phone.

There were many battles lost and Mom neither

 

won that war. The damned operators she wrestled.

The grey hut was starting to shamble

and the darkness of Mom’s words transfixed

themselves with the light bulbs,

and those showers thereafter returned the childhood achoos.

 

I was reprimanded for being late at school,

But mother was bedridden. What was I to do?

Set out – almost barefoot. Along my journey

on the cigarette path, I met Crystal, Molly,

was tracked by a Dragon and became BFs with Mary Jane.

 

I had to leave that woman when I came of age.

For she said we’d be home by autumn’s end.

But there I sat in

an apartment that made squalor shiver,

and a boyfriend here, and over there.

 

She cried when my departure loomed overhead.

She was neither the executioner nor the criminal

but the wife of the bread-thief.

I was the void between Venus and Mars,

Water and a pot-plant balcony garden constituted my celestial body.

 

That woman, her promise of a time yonder our

dilapidated apartment…

was a dream of hollow mines and sore minds.

Maybe I will return to her; she was my parent, after all.

This was an exodus much sooner than expected.


Author’s Comments:

‘Grey House’ takes the perspective of a young child who grows to realise the tendencies and crumbling life of her mother. Of course, this neglectful/dangerous relationship can be interpreted as an extended metaphor for something else. Grey House was first conceptualised in primary school, but not in the form you would expect. I originally had planned a song that was basic string of low notes followed by a string of low notes. Much of this current rendition of the poem comes from my exposure to my social work degree.

Right to the top, gazing where fans swirled, and birds lost all their feathers.
Mommy laughed when I said mine was what the light touched.

Stanza 3

The poem opens with a gleeful optimism, right as a child (the voice) and their mother are moving into an apartment complex. The circumstances that led to this is alluded later in the poem, but the child at the moment takes no baring of the particulars. Instead, the child is fixated on the glee of moving to another home, the adventure that awaits there and all the exploration they have to do! The last stanza is a reference to The Lion King.

The grey hut was starting to shamble
and the darkness of Mom’s words transfixed
themselves with the light bulbs,
and those showers thereafter returned the childhood achoos.

Stanza 3

Quickly, after the orientation to the apartment the child has started to see the faults in the cracks, most obviously presented as the child’s name for her maternal figure changes throughout the course. This, along the lines of the ‘Autumn, that Bastard’ collection is disillusionment of the relationship with the caregiver. Even the ‘Grey House’ they move to is quickly being reconsidered by the POV, naming it a ‘hut’ to further challenge the status of the child’s home life. The excitement of such a big apartment complex has been fully realised to the small condo that it is.

I was the void between Venus and Mars,
Water and a pot-plant balcony garden constituted my celestial body.

Stanza 7

Our persona quickly grows up over the course of this short poem, which is a reference to the nature of shortened adolescence when faced with adversity or a lack of resources. The void is a metaphor and an oxymoron, for earth is in between those two planets. The metaphor grander scale disempowerment the persona has been experiencing that has left the child feeling adrift. The oxymoron further highlights the invisibility the persona has been experiencing. Ultimately, for the child’s benefit, the child moves on and acknowledges that this was their sole parent. All their experiences just left them both in a neglected space.

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