Playing House by David Havird

Playing House

David Havird

A stronghold sat in fog on an island, a castle
in ruins, while up a road away from the bay
a “stone house” stood. Amid a ring of stones,

five upright stones, a capstone table-flat
across—a prehistoric tomb. Inside,
a snakeskin. Spring? The season was molting.

On up, another dolmen. Because of the slope,
we had to have spotted this one when driving down
from the “hills,” two burial mounds

that you’d be able to see from the castle
when warm days cleared the water of fog,
the upland of clouds. The capstone only

was visible, lichen-flecked granite.
As though she meant to belly-crawl beneath it,
our daughter, hands on knees in wet grass, peered.

I gripped her—not yet four,
no sooner down from clouds than under stone
she was going—pink jeans, a handful.

That other dolmen, the stenhus
in which the three of us together could stand—
she took to calling it her playhouse. A sheep,

a megalith itself, a shaggy one,
from which there dangled knots of filthy yarn,
was grazing. A bellwether older than God—

older, I mean, than the ram in the thicket, horns caught,
its golden fleece to hang at the end of the quest.
Our daughter begged to pet it.

My wife imagined that lovers, when stars
were nibbling, had sex on the sly there. That snakeskin—
we joked, of course, that it was a condom.

About the Author

David Havird is the author of three collections, of which the most recent, Weathering (Mercer University Press, 2020), includes prose memoir as well as poetry. New work of his is out or will be soon in Birmingham Poetry ReviewLiterary ImaginationLiterary Matters, and Raritan. He taught for thirty years at Centenary College of Louisiana. For more about him visit