Hostage House

Poem By Frank Bana

The house is vast to one like me
Who longs for small interiors
The lunch table the midriff of a tree
The ceilings high above the balconies
Admitting yellow crescent shafts of light.

I walk along the wired perimeter
The grassy garden left untrimmed
Except before the Eid. A goat lives there
Tethered, munching, ignorant of his fate
To be the guest most honoured at the feast.

I walk the gently sloping hills
Beside the moneyed walls and high-grown trees
The house still echoes silently
Even the dog, here since his puppy days
Knows everyone too well to speak
And strangers rarely come to talk
And friends more rarely still. I walk
The lightly trodden, often muddy paths
Moulded and crevassed by the season's rain
Cast out like Cain after his day of work
I stretch out every strand of time
Until the dark returns.

Only the tunes of walking blues
Are company for me upon these trails
As I trudge in empty shoes
I calculate the yearly, monthly rents
Exchange rates rounded in my head.
What would it take to contemplate
The drama of a swift escape
To flee weightless by taxi to reclaim
The tiny rooms of urban life
In which no man lives hostage
To his life, where friends and music
Even air still seems
Available and not yet crushed
By pure menacing spirits of
An empty house, far more invested in
Than love that drifts
Like smoke towards its beams?

I walk to limits of the dead-end lanes
And back again, awaiting the return
Of dark, the signal to resume
The drawn-out playing of concluding scenes
On stages bare of dialogue and dreams.

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