by Rebecca Cooney
Two girls, alone in the world,
tell themselves a story.
They are waiting for the knock at the door
from the man who sinks to his knees in relief
and tells them they are heir to a vast fortune
and probably a castle
(because that is how these stories go).
The knock on the door never comes.
So instead they build themselves a castle
out of lost baby teeth and sellotape
and things they find in charity shops.
Sometimes a life looks like a castle,
when what it has taught you so far is to build battlements.
Centuries later, you,
descendent in the ascendent,
come into your inheritance of defensive earthworks
You replace arrow slits with bow windows
because the war is over now, and what you need,
you say, is light.
But look at you
pouring oil from the casements at 1am
in a vicious fight with someone you love,
prizing arrowheads from the wall by the kettle
and firing them back into the darkness.
You open your mouth to curse
and your mother’s voice comes out.
She tells you a story about a knock at the door.
You know there is no one coming,
but you make a cup of tea
and sit yourself down to wait.