Pukeahu Anthology

To the Woman who Bought my House

Poet, author and playwright, Vivienne Plumb, was a Mount Cook resident for many years in the 1980s and 1990s. The poem ‘To the Woman who Bought my House’ describes the complexity of selling her family home in Mount Cook where so much personal history resides.

Virginia, queen of the real
estate agents, introduces us,
and I smile and shake her hand
but my smile doesn’t touch the sides.
She asks if the area has changed.
Yes. She wouldn’t have bought this house
then, in the good old days when drugs
were discovered carefully hidden
in the toilet cistern of the Tram-
ways Hotel close by, where murderers
drank before heading off to murder,
and the brothel was on that corner,
and punks who chopped up their
furniture for firewood lived next door.

Virginia says the first offer
can be the best, it is an old real
estate saying apparently,
and they have enough of those.

So, to the woman who bought my house,
I wonder if you found the secret
trapdoor? By the way, one hot summer
we had to bury our old dead cat
in the garden, and it is okay
with me if you paint right over
the pictures my son drew on the back
bedroom wall. This was a good house,
a loved house, although I warn you
it makes noise, it creaks and yawns,
it is like those labels attached
to Third World rugs: any flaws
are part of the natural fibre.
Virginia assured me
there is another home for any
one and everyone, and while this
house will not shelter me any more,
nevertheless, I bless it for you.
I bless it for you.