Houses, for Open Link Night

I’m later than usual for Open Link Night at dVerse. Among other reasons, I got caught up in listening to the brand-new Garbage album — their first in 7 years, and I’m a big fan. My daughter was actually all done with her bathroom prep, in bed, and ready for me to read to her, and there I was, still rocking out. Darkly. Anyway, here’s the poem:

 

Houses

Never fall in love
with houses;
they’re not as solid
as you think.

They collapse
around you even as
you live in them,
every day, another
small change,
another step closer
to a change
in your address.

You will not die
in your house,
quietly in
your sleep,
or at least,
few people do;

for most, there is
a staggered slide,
here a loss and there,
until, really, it’s time
to find a place for
mom or dad.

(By the way, that’s you.)

Maybe it’s worse
to leave a house
while you’re young;
then it seems as if
you should be able to
go back and visit.

The new people have
vinyl siding, or a giant pool,
and no one cares that you
used to have a hiding place
by the downspout, where
you pretended to sew clothes
with thorns from the trees,
which may not even
be there anymore.

If you are let inside,
what will you see?
Other people’s stuff.
No evidence of you.
You will awaken, too,
a small beast inside,
a young one that

you silenced,
papered over;

now it beats against
the wall of your chest,
believes it’s finally home.

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17 thoughts on “Houses, for Open Link Night

  1. heavy man…i feel this way about my grandmothers house….i actually went back one year…it felt so different…some of the hiding spots were still around but it was no longer the same but i def felt that little one inside calling for home…

    • Oh, yeah, it’s awful. We lived in 8 different houses (6 of which I remember clearly) when I was growing up. I have gone back to 3 of them — knocked on one door, but no one was home (or no one answered, anyway), so I’ve only seen exteriors. Then there was my grandparents’ house, my great-grandparents’ and a lake cottage that generations of my family went to. All gone, or soon to be — the cottage is for sale. It’s true what they say … you can never go home again.

  2. Lisa LaMonica says:

    Holy sh*t. That’s amazing. I love it.

    Have you submitted to The Sun? (www.thesunmagazine.org) It’s my favorite. And I just felt like I was reading an issue of The Sun as I was reading your poem. So I think it belongs in there.

    P.S. Apologies for the language, but…I’m not a huge poetry person, generally. But this was just perfect, as when I’m reading a novel, and there’s a sentence or a paragraph that’s just so perfect that I have to go back and read it over a few times. And underline it, maybe copy it down. And I think that I just finally realized what a poem is supposed to do to the reader? And I think that’s high praise for you. This is literally the second poem in the past 7 years that has made me feel like I want to keep it with me. So thank you 🙂

    • Lisa! How great to hear from you here, and thank you so much for your comments. I’m very flattered that you liked this even thought you generally don’t like poetry.

      As for The Sun … it scares me. I forget why. Either it gets the scary black circle that indicates “experienced poets only” in Poet’s Market (which is my reference book for such things) or it quotes a crazy low acceptance rate.

      But … my own acceptance rate is going up lately (which took a long time), and so is my comfort level — which may mean it’s time to dare myself a little and try for some of those black dots.

      I’ll check out an issue or two of The Sun, and again, thank you so much!

  3. I cannot remember how many times I have moved. The worst was the selling of my grandmother’s country Victorian after her death at 103. The house was exactly the same age. I still drive past it up on the hill. The drive-by has its uses, but I long for the house itself. I mean, I would want the past house–not the current one. How spooky would that be? Especially if it refused to accommodate tiny useful adaptations of memory.

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