The Brief – Julia Stothard

The Brief

It started out as a cavernous space
with no light source.
The brief was to make it bright and inviting,
to give it soul.
I took it, bunker and hideout,
and set about making it bright.
The clever bit
was the upturned sieves for lampshades.

The walls were too coarse to paint;
I plastered it
in paper mâché from unread papers,
back when the news
arrived from some distant place
and shot past me.
This is all about what I neglected.

Up next was colour, the season
offered up red leaves for the ceiling,
agarica xanthodermus stain
for light, a dab of moss
and a bottle forest,
whilst two fly-tipped mirrors
spoke endlessly of windows.

Such cluttering would offset
the dense silence
fizzing with anxiety. What
would an explosion sound like?
In the event, I felt it before I heard it
and I chose an intense teal
to focus on when nothing felt solid.

Stone floors are not as glamorous
as they had seemed
last season. I salvaged a rug,
a few off-cuts of carpet
from the loft, and squirrelled them
down to the basement.
Left them loose, for the dust.

Our centre-piece was an island,
half a beer barrel
dragged in at the seventh hour
to serve as a table.
It could fit eight elbows, hold four
heads when the news didn’t get through.
Next week’s challenge
will be based on the theme of Escape.

Julia Stothard lives in Surrey and works at Royal Holloway University of London. Her poems have appeared in various publications including Ink, Sweat and Tears, South, London Grip and Dempsey & Windle competition anthologies.