By Olivia McCannon
They made their highest offer on the house
The survey showed it was built on quarries
But they bought it anyway for the view.
The years brought shifts too small to be seen
Slipping right angles blurred by shadow
Fissures so fine they passed for webs –
Spasms on strings tugged by the streams that ran
Beneath them, turning up axes and rotting props
A sheep's skull, a rat's rail, a bird's beak –
Omens in the foundations that glowed at night
In bed when the off-balance buzzed in their ears
When they felt the earth adjust for hollow weight.
The collapse never came – they owned the threat of it
Like the snarling dog stopped by its chain. Theirs, too
The bricks around them, the space beneath them.
• From Exactly My Own Length, published by Carcanet
from The Guardian's Saturday Poem series.
* photograph by Penelope Jonze