Saturday, November 06, 2010

That House

was built by my father, stone upon stone.

Later wood was laid on, and new stories

and rooms for all the children. A back gate

and an alcove. We were happy there.

In that house, deep in the walls,

termites were given

in marriage and were fruitful

and ate of the fruit of those trees

which built that house.

We noticed, bit by bit. Shavings

fell from the corners

where the walls met. The floors gave

gently when we stepped.

But we didn't mind. It's old,

we said. Old houses bend,

and lose things.

Then my father

dropped his match and

the flicker caught the dust

crumbling from the door

and crawled lightly

up the wall while we held

our breath and hoped

it wouldn't grow.

The den went first,

where we gathered. The coffee table sighed

and turned over, charring

in strips. We all left for our rooms.

It's not a hungry fire. It burns slowly,

one wall at a time. Smoke sticks

in our lungs, and the dust

falls grey like ash. Outside,

my father's well laps cold

under the earth. Soon,

soon it will all give way

but the stones.


Sarah said...

So beautifully wistful and heartbreaking. For some reason I especially love the lines about the coffee table, though I'm not sure what it is about them.

HSS said...

Thank you, Sarah. I know your comment was probably two years old, but I haven't been around for two years, and thought I'd reply since I just now discovered it. I wrote this one while I was waiting for my church to fall on my head. :( Thank God it's still standing, if a little burned and weakened in places. He has more grace than I give Him credit for.