Friday, December 28, 2012

Year-Bottom Poems: House Kaddish

House Kaddish

It was the logical thing to do.
We don't need that creaky old barn.
No-one's living there.
Call it and you'd get Mom's ghost on the phone machine.
Her phone ghost would say "Please leave a message after the beep,"
and then beep, and then I'd talk
and while talking I'd see the front room with the phone,
and the green view through the window screen
and the staircase up from the front room, and the staircase down;
both staircases were musical instruments, you played them by climbing them
and all my childhood, even late at night, in bed, eyes closed
I knew who was walking on them
by the volume, pitch and tempo of the groaning wood.

It was an old house, and it made sense to sell it.
It was too big for any one of us, and too small for the clutter.
So we looted the clutter; you get this, I get that, who needs these?
We tried to hollow it out, but no-one needed most of the furniture
and the memories stayed there, though we took them with us.
I see the old house easily, with closed eyes; soon no other way.

But why bother repeating memories?
Like the living-room dog-stain that we never got out?
Or the dew that beaded on the basement floor
in humid Newton summers?
And how about the place's rich brown wood aroma?
I could smell it when just out of the shower, but no other time.
Other times I was too used to it, I was within it, unknowing.
Same with the memories.
I'm not aware of them most of the time;
they're just part of me, unnoticed
pervading like the perfume of pine paneling.

Today the house is sold; soon come the wreckers;
the land is valuable, the creaky old barn is not.
Nor is the old maple out front, clinging to life
or the young crabapple, planted too close;
all will come down to make way for the new.
We'll all get paid, it's a good deal;
we're selling at just the right time;
it makes perfect sense,
it's the logical thing to do.

So why did I call the place yesterday?
Did I want to say farewell?
But instead I got a phone robot;
"This number has been disconnected.
This number has been disconnected.
There is no more information about this number."

And just now I called again.


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