A House of Cards by MJ L’Espérance

Online Open Mic – 2021

MJ L’Espérance tender words encompass sweetness and sorrows. My favorite line, “Empty rooms filled to the brim of made-up memories that we pick up from the floor like children’s toys.”

Take in this captivating poem below.

A House of Cards

There is one little dirty word
that makes the house of cards I built
within myself
in a whirlwind
of red and black,
of hearts and spades.

The wedding ceremony
where I would have worn a pretty velvet dress
and arrived at the chapel on a sleigh
dragged by two horses wearing bells, ringing
in the cold air of a December afternoon.
The father-daughter dance,
probably a cha-cha so you could lead confidently
and because it makes you laugh
to count it out loud
while I step on your toes.
(Do you remember that it goes ‘one-two-three,

The house I would have bought in the suburbs
with a wrap-around porch
and an apple tree in the backyard.
A homey house, smelling of chicken soup
and banana bread and a fireplace.
A real dining room and a table large enough for twelve.
The perfect house to have the family
over every year for Christmas.
And your anniversary.
And our birthdays.
(December, February, June, November)

The sounds of your grandchildren
running around, screaming and laughing
as they tugged on the dog’s tail.
Embarrassing traces of tears
you would have wiped with the back of your hand
after you would have kissed them goodbye.
(Do you remember how you used to cover your face during sad movies?)
All those times you would have whispered
their names under your breath,
a melody so full of promises,
the sound of sunshine after such a long storm.

I do not live there anymore,
and neither do you.
The whole building threatens to fall apart.
But in the confines of my heart,
the place where I keep you
warm within me,
you are still there
waiting by the door for me.
We are long gone, but in my mind’s eye
all of this is still possible because I made you
the guardian of that would-be life.
I entrusted that disappearing future within you.

Empty rooms filled to the brim of made-up memories
that we pick up from the floor like children’s toys,

like you build a home
from a house.


MJ L’Espérance is a bilingual writer and educator who lives in Montreal, QC. She writes about mental health, disabilities, loss and lust. In her spare time, she likes to run after cats in back alleys and walk barefoot on the grass. 

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