Alex Toms – Tenancy


There was no clause stating I’d have to share with ghosts –
those who were just passing through,
alighting like bees on a bush

before going on their way.
Mostly they don’t bother me,
but sometimes they leave a reminder:

a tarnished teaspoon at the back of a drawer;
on the flowerbed, a toy soldier fallen in action.
Lives wiped away

like mould that blooms on a window frame,
or painted over with thick magnolia strokes.
Existences masked, but not erased

lingering like the must of damp,
seeping into layers of plaster and brick.
Sometimes I think I can hear them:

in the ripple of breath behind the curtains;
in the walls that hum like a hive
before a frame’s removed.

Biography: Alex has been published in magazines, anthologies and journals including Writers’ Forum, ARTEMISPoetry and South. Her competition successes include a commendation in the 2013 Poetry Londoncompetition, 3rd prize in this year’s Essex Poetry Festival and 1st prize in the New Writer prize for best single poem. She has a poem in the forthcoming anthology, Raving Beauties, to be published by Bloodaxe Books in Spring 2015. She lives in Wivenhoe, Essex with her partner and sons, and writes when her three-year-old will let her.