THE HOUSE THAT WANTED TO BE A BOAT

Inspired by cliff landslides in Whitby, Angela Readman's poem talks of the close bond between our homes and our history. Illustration by Paul Garland.

The cottage slips a little each day,
closer to the cliff, we picture it as a boat,  

drifting off in one piece as we carry 
out spoons, china cups, and stand back.  

It should leap into the sea, skinny dip
like a woman realising she can dive.

Yet it slides slowly, glacial, pools
of one man’s fingertips in the gloss

of skirting boards hold it back, strands
of his hair fasten floorboards that keen  

for our losses. Mother’s face is a gable,
a peel of wallpaper still hanging on, plaster  

ducks on the wall winging it, pointing
out all this sky. There is nothing to do

but stare as the roof tips its hat, and bricks
buckle up for that slide into ocean, free-fall.



'The House That Wanted To Be A Boat' was published in Popshot's 12th issue, The Time Issue, which has now sold out. To ensure that you never miss a future issue of the print magazine, subscribe from just £10 a year.