Museum of Miniature, West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen

As part of the Museum of Miniature project at West Cork Arts Centre, I was invited to  write a short piece inspired by one of eight miniature works of art.

Aissa Lopez’  Miniature (below) made a deep impact on me and prompted my response, Return, which I read as part of the Museum of Miniature’s event at the West Cork Arts Centre in July 2018.


Miniature by Aissa Lopez


Houses shrink. We grow; they shrink. Go back, and everything seems smaller – hence the saying: Never go back. But I always did. Looking for you, probably.

This house, here, was all innocence: licking the wooden spoon when you baked, Fry’s Turkish Delight on Fridays, a big pink teddy bear one Christmas… The one time we had money for Mr Whippy, I was so excited I dropped the ice cream running home.

 You handled my despair; Mr Whippy had gone.

This one, then, this is where you entertained in elegant Irish-designed clothes and I turned prankster: hidden bells, collapsing chairs, a hamster stashed in my dolls’ house one April Fools’ that was never seen again … Here, too, I got my first pair of bell-bottoms and stood staring at the mirror, biting my finger – me, in bell-bottoms!

They were tweed, for feck’s sake. Tweed.

The house with the stairs outside – here you suffered and I fell in love. Deeply. He and I, we often lay on the floor in an alcove downstairs, between a room and a room, where you couldn’t surprise us. Nor we you. There was an orange cordial stain on my white bedroom carpet (mea culpa) and I once smashed a door through a wall. Well. A huntsman spider the size of my face was loitering on the back of the toilet door. The flight instinct has muscle.

This was a home of blue skies and water fights, of light and shadow. And lost days.

In the tall, thin house I discovered my writerly self – the one you had detected years earlier – while scribbling on yellow pages, gutted by Italian crooners. One winter’s day, I sat in the orange grove in a porcupine coat and for four hours wept my siblings’ loss. Mine, too.

Here, we spoke our last words.

This – this is the house where you have never been, where the grandchildren you have never known grew up, and where I grow older than you ever were.


Museum of Miniature-Writer_Denyse_Woods with Aissa-Lopez miniature_PhotoBy_MarieBrett






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