Elizabeth Stewart + Claire Askew

Lizzy Stewart & Claire Askew

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

First Swap

Image by Lizzy Stewart.

Built in.

by Claire Askew

I am still in here, despite the siege. Still here,
behind the maze of scaffolding and duckboards -
business almost as usual, though I daren’t leave.

I watch the men through the drawn blind like TV,
as they paint over the rotting window-frames,
drink tea from flasks, sandblast, dig moats outside.

I keep the windows locked, just in case - paranoid,
I hide the jewellery box . On cold days, they slither
about on the slats, four floors up - a precarious ballet.

Some nights, I like to haul myself through
the wet window with a steaming cup, and sway
on the scaffold, scaring myself. I can choose -

to look out over the rainy slates, streetlights, the stretch
of council yards, or plunge. (Cobbles wink in the alley
below, its discarded mattress a festering fall-breaker.)

But it will be gone soon, this crows’ nest, climbing-frame
for drunks, this cage. They will come in the morning,
wake me early, and pack it away, whistling.