Behind the Walls ~ a haibun

They may think we are richer than they, we in a great big mansion, surrounded by a garden and trees, they in their warm terraced houses, stretching off to the distance hills. But we who live here lead another life, as poor as any church mouse, while the mortar crumbles around us, we watch the demise of the house. We have never been rich. No one ever knows what goes on behind the walls.

The rooms are cold and draughty
We conserve our power
And wait for that fateful hour

I look from the kitchen window along the line of the street. Two cars to every house. They drive away early and come home late or walk, burdened with shopping bags, with their children in pushchairs,on skates or running, healthily on ahead. Lives and loves are portrayed on the streets. No one ever knows what goes on behind the walls.

Grandma came every Sunday
Grandma is no more.
She died of cancer last week.

I watch the students come and go, like a yearly flock of birds, to the house at the end of the street. Laughing and joking, carrying bags, the girl and the boy, their arms interlinked nudging against each other, smiling. But I haven’t seen the girl for weeks. No one ever knows what goes on behind the walls.

The boy with the broken heart
Walks slowly today
The girl preferred his best friend

Now Christmas lights fill their windows, their houses welcoming, warm, waiting for Santa Claus to fulfil all their childhood dreams. My dream is to be back in a time when our house was full. The chimney was blocked long ago. No more flickering fires. Now we await the Christmas ghost, the spirit of Christmas past. No one ever knows what goes on behind the walls.

I saw Santa Claus one night
Through a curtain chink
Sleigh bells, snow and winter stars

Every house tells its story. The streets are full of lies. No one ever knows the things that are hidden by the walls.


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