The Bright House, Christine Barkley
We are in a house, brightly day-lit.
Windows from floor to vaulted ceiling, windows peering into wide and wider rooms with more
and more windows, white French doors opening into deeper open spaces surrounding the
deepest open spaces of the house.
We are in an empty dining room which has been filled by a family, a table,
fewer chairs than people. All gathered for a dinner that hasn’t been prepared. All standing,
waiting. Some of them just
mouths. Opening into deeper spaces. Sunlight still reaches us from somewhere unreachable.
We are in a dining room emptied of all but more and more people; a dozen long gleaming tables
unable to contain them all. All teeth.
The brightness waits with them. The brightness multiplies with them. The tables are set
with too many knives. The meal is not ready.
We are walking through rooms into other rooms, nothing but dining rooms and kitchens,
each a sparkling void of windows and doors.
It is daytime, still. It is dinnertime, again. In every dining room
they are waiting. In every kitchen a meal is being prepared.
The house, larger than ever, full of nothing but white French doors, opening into more
wide white rooms, all floor-to-ceiling windows with no
view, just bright, just more windows and doors
and doors and doors opening into dining rooms, kitchen after kitchen.
The house does not end. The day does not end. It is always dinnertime.
The family, boundless now - tables overturned, chairs torn apart.Their mouths open so wide
that we can see inside. The light is coming from their deepest empty spaces.
We have been prepared.
Christine Barkley an artist and writer based in the Pacific Northwest. Her poetry explores the themes of chronic illness, trauma, the natural world, and existential horror. When not writing, she can be found wandering in the woods and baking endless batches of cupcakes. Her work has appeared in littledeathlit.