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

beach windmills

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

and loss.

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.

‘Defensive Earthworks’ written and performed by Rebecca Cooney

Rebecca Cooney

Rebecca Cooney is a journalist and performance poet living in south east London. She has performed at open mic nights and slams across London, and was longlisted for the Outspoken Poetry Prize 2020. She is also the producer and co-host of the Dead Darlings podcast, a monthly podcast dedicated to the spoken word scene in London and beyond.

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