The houses are coming

by Robin Houghton

from behind hoardings when you’re not looking,
trying to live up to the artist’s impression.
Down one-way streets the wrong way they slip
to the tune of infill and quotas and backhanders.
They’re coming to a field or a muddy ditch near you,
seeking out scout huts to flatten or a football pitch
to excavate, public toilets to macerate. They speak
of small-minded windows, off-plan, open plan,
a seductive flow of concrete footings, drywall,
en suites, third bedrooms the size of a coffin.
The houses spread out from the phantom limbs
of roundabouts, a bloody flowering from brambles,
strong with the tickbox confidence of planners.
Noone cares that the houses share a single heart
and lung, a single thought. Because we want them:
they are what our dogs have been barking for,
what fieldfares and skylarks sing for. They fill up
the untenanted spaces in our minds, they make us
misremember old routes. The houses are coming
and we know they will stub out their cigarettes
on our skin, take everything and keep on taking,
even so, we throw open our front doors, we let them in.