Floorplans, poem by Laila Sumpton

This is a response piece by a ‘roaming’ resident at Who Are We? project.


These are the lines I remember
I’ll draw them in the sand
and these the ones I would have made
if I’d had time.

I see curtain shades I would have hung
which would have welcomed morning.

Here’s the shelf I never fixed
after you gave me a Koran and encyclopaedia
for Christmas.

Here’s the perfect nook
where I hid
when I needed to be small.

I feel the pull of places I have been
the walls I left behind.

Are those relatives still trading horses?
Are the fences where I left them?
Do birds still land on my window?
Is someone wiping onion tears
and swearing when rice over boils?

Is there a child tipping milk down drain
then begging for stories
with a little white tache for show?

I told her I wanted to be a cowherder
and she told me- I’d better drink that milk-
the cows would know,
it’s disrespectful to throw
what you have taken.

As I trace these lines in other sands
I wonder if grandma
could see through walls.

These are my borders now
this cotton partition shields me
we’ve woven in some modesty
and the ink for what I’d change
would paint these walls thrice over.

The letter flap waits and waits,
the cable hums my pulse back home.