This is a Photo of My House
It has pink bricks and a big tree. This is the driveway, you can lie on it in the summer, it keeps you warm if you are wet. This is the screen door, swallow. Front green door, hold your chest. The carpet is dark grey and hurts your knees, it doesn’t show any blood. Here are the walls, be careful of the small girl in the corner. Here is the door into the hall, be careful of that too. Here is the line where the carpet stops and the kitchen starts, that is a different country—if you are in the kitchen you are safe, if you are in the lounge on your knees you are not. Watch out for the corners. She isn’t going anywhere. There is the piano. There is the ghost. Here is the hall, it is very dark. Here is the bedroom. Here is the other bedroom, babies come from there. Here is the last bedroom, it is very cold, there is a trapdoor in the wardrobe, it goes down under the floor and you can hide if there is a flood or a tornado. There is the bath. The aunty punched the uncle in the face till he bled, they lived in the small room, the cold one, that was before I was born. Here is the lounge again, here is the phone: ringthepoliceringthepolice. Here is the couch, it is brown, watch out for the man, he is dangerous. Here is the beginning of the lino in the kitchen again, here is the woman. Watch out for the girl in the corner, she is always here. There is the woman, she just watches and then she forgets.
I am cutting a big hole in the roof. Look down through the roof, there is the top of the man, you can’t see his face, but see his arm, see it moving fast.
I am removing the outside wall of the bedroom. Look inside, there are the Spirits, that’s where they live.
Stand outside in the dark and watch the rays come out through the holes—those are the people’s feelings.
Tusiata Avia is a Samoan-New Zealand poet, performer and writer. She has published three books of poetry: Wild Dogs Under My Skirt, Bloodclot, Fale Aitu/ Spirit House, a chapbook and two children’s books. She has been published in a wide range of anthologies and journals in New Zealand and overseas. Her one-woman theatre show (also called Wild Dogs Under My Skirt) toured internationally from 2002 to 2008 and was remounted as a show for six actresses in 2016. Tusiata has held a number of writers’ residencies and awards, including a Fulbright Pacific Artist Fellowship at the University of Hawai’i and the Janet Frame Literary Trust Award.