Siobhan Harvey

Haunted House

At night, the home turns to dark matter:
constellations spin at dusty windows; stray
cats prowl a lightless street; veiled vehicles

steal by. Belonging here is seized
from TV flickers, the home electric with
transmitted crisis, the world-views of

politicians, people-traffickers, wall-builders,
warmongers and fake-news profiteers, ghosts
in the haunted house of the news.

The swell high in the estuary close by,
the home imagines itself, like the migrant,
rowing in ocean air beneath moonlight.

There is upset. There is unsettlement.
Freighted with loss, a sleepwalker disturbs
corridors; their breath troubles empty rooms.

The home soothes this free spirit with warm tea,
guides it back to bed, then sings it to sleep.

Soon thoughts become dead bodies
washed up on starless shores, craft capsized
in deep waters, babies born to detention centres.

The home peels away the roof of this
strange reality, as if it’s a scar, as if it bleeds

At the heart of the matter is such music
as beats in the body unseen, and here the home
calls out sanctuary to all who are displaced, all ghosts
turned away, in dark matter, from entry elsewhere.

Come to me, it cries.
Come be bodies safe as homes

no politician, people-trafficker, wall-builder,
warmonger or fake-news profiteer can haunt.

Siobhan Harvey is a UK author of eight books, including the poetry and creative nonfiction collection, Ghosts (Otago University Press, 2021). She was awarded the 2021 Janet Frame Literary Trust Memorial Award for Poetry, 2020 New Zealand Society of Authors Peter & Dianne Beatson Fellowship, 2019 Kathleen Grattan Award for a Sequence of Poems and 2019 Robert Burns Poetry Prize. The Poetry Archive (UK) holds a Poet’s Page on her and her work.