Safe in the house

safe, safe in the house
locked, locked
by the sun
to the couch

I thought about freedom
the cold shout
the sharp blue and white
of your height

I thought of another life
muffled and blurred with fluff
where pain is held in the mouth
where backs are turned to the south

close for a time to your track
I found it bald and bleak
but the sun shone white as chalk
and I thought my heart would crack

Rachel McAlpine 1975

This is a poem from my very first collection, Lament for Ariadne. I still love it. I wonder what you think it might be about? Hint: it’s not a love poem… and it’s not about a house either, like the following podcast episode:

A safe, shareable, shipshape home


6 thoughts on “Safe in the house

  1. mpardi2013 says:

    Had you not included the postscript citing Ariadne I would have been free to create my own focal point. But now I feel I’m missing something.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Then perhaps I should remove the postscript. Mind you, in those days I was in love with everything and everyone from a cup of tea to a blackbird. Except all those that made me sad or mad. I like the mellow Ness of my old age!

  2. I love this poem for the sounds even more than the meaning which is elusive. It’s got that thing going for it that many of Seamus Heaney’s poems have… the wonder of words as they land on the page, their sounds.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Ah– you noticed. After 45 years I only like (really like on all levels) two poems in that first collection. Some of the others are very good but the flavour repels me. Luckily we change as life goes on.

  3. Can you imagine how dull life would be if we didn’t change. How we use words change. What words we actually put together change.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      But it’s scary, right?

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