The House in Madzakou Street

Ten years in the house in Madzakou Street.
Moved in on the strength of a full moon
Seen from the balcony
Hanging large, low and yellow.

Painted the house with Melanie that September.
Did the high ceilings
With rollers on long handles.
Got fitter than I’d ever been.

Was surprised we agreed on the colours:
Peach for the living room with its wooden floor,
Green for the hall to match the mosaic,
Yellow for the kitchen, the sunny room.

Filled the balcony with rejected plants
Rescued from the bins down the road,
Pink bougainvillea against the white wall,
The creeping cactus where the gekkos hid.

Ten years in the house in Madzakou Street.
Just divorced when I moved in.
Melanie an angry teenager
Secretly smoking in her new bedroom.

Horrible screams on our first evening there.
I rushed in to find a caterpillar
Lurid green and the size of my finger
Walking across the kitchen floor.

The caterpillars lived in the grapevine
That grew across the back of the house
And cast shadows in the bath
On hot summer afternoons.

One autumn the ageing landlord,
Tired of sweeping up fallen leaves,
Cut the vine through down near the ground.
I mourned its death for months.

The cat brought in a canary.
Melanie got him a cage and a mate.
Suddenly we had six,
The chicks ugly as ostriches.

Melanie moved out for a year
To be replaced by a stray cat.
So then there were three
But she moved back anyway.

The summers were hellish hot
Under the roof lined with polystyrene.
The air in the bedroom
Warm enough to swim in.

But in the cool of the evening
I’d sit out on the balcony,
The cats seated on chairs around me,
And stare at the white rocks of Licavittos Hill.

Ten years in the house in Madzakou Street.
Moved out to another country
Where roses replace the grapevine
And green lawns the steep rocks.

© Fiona Strefi 2010

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