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Life As A House

Updated on March 6, 2013

Searching the incarnations of these streets

you stop to stand in the door way of a house.

This is the closest you will ever come to time travel,

watching the motes fall through air that hasn't reached human lungs in decades

cutting through the sunlight that connects

scarred wooden floors to the rest of the world

floors now devoid

of the couch,

the rug,

the knick-knacks--

the accoutrements that once told you where you were.

They don’t live here anymore.

And you look like this.

Who you are is connected to all of it,

caught up in

things you don’t remember because you weren’t here yet.

. . . except that you were. . .

Maybe not in any of the sepia-toned photographs,

but you were here--

you were here in the ridge of a brow

the curled lock of hair

in his step

in her sleep

you were kinetic energy

you were waiting

in the bounce of the ball

the skip of the rope

in the ancient shoe leather that walked new over these floors.

Dreams raised curtains over these windows trying desperately to define the life they meant to have here

dreams so bright and strong that the surplus is carried still

on the tide that floods your vein

the electricity that leaps between synapses

we were supposed to be the fruition of those dreams.

And is it worth wondering

after all this time

after all these lives

--touch the door frame

trace the crack in the plaster

check the reflection in the glass--

will it hold

will it stand

will it last. . .

274 Words of Explanation More or Less

T.S. Eliot said that a poem should reach the reader, first, on an emotional level through the rhythm and the imagery. I've known English-major types who have braved madness attempting to divine the meaning in his work by hunting and analysing all of his allusions.

I like T.S. Eliot. I love The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. I was rather surprised when someone told me it was about a marriage proposal. I'm not sure that that knowledge enhanced my appreciation of the work. I responded to the self-deprication of the speaker as he ruminates that he "should have been a pair of ragged claws, scuttling along the floors of silent seas." I was lulled by the cadence of walking "through certain half deserted streets." I was mystefied by the questions in the literature book at the end of the selection: Did he get the girl? How do you know?

My favorite Eliot poem, however, is Preludes. If you know what it is about, please don't tell me.

As for an explanation of my own poem, I don't know if I can give you one.

I am no T.S. Eliot-- not remotely. I am a genealogist. I am fascinated by the people and by the things they left behind, specifically things that can tell us something about the real lives of the people. I love old buildings. If you are lucky enough to go tramping into some place that still has the original tile or woodwork, some place that has been shut up for years, maybe even decades, it is the closest you will ever get to time travel. I'm desperate for the ability to see through the things time has done, the paint, and rennovations, to what it must have looked like, wishing that I could look through time and see the people, the ones who were the precursors to. . . this. . .and to us.


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    • BrightMeadow profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from a room of one's own

      Your praise means a lot. Thank you so much.

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      9 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Nice imagery and the subject matter is unusual. Voting this Up and Beautiful.

    • BrightMeadow profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from a room of one's own


      I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Escapes profile image


      9 years ago

      Your words made my imagination drift back to my childhood home. Beautiful!

    • BrightMeadow profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from a room of one's own


      I'm so glad you enjoyed it. On my journeying from here to there, there are several old abandon houses. I'm sad for them. When I'm on foot I will stop and peep in the windows at the fire places, wood work, crumbling plaster and try to imagine their hay days.


      Thanks for stopping. I happened to buy a house a block from where my great-grandmother grew up. (I didn't know that when I bought my house, and their house is now gone.) As I walk up the road some days I think about her, in her youth, perhaps, walking up the same hill on her way home from work on a warm spring night, or like today a grey winter day and although not many things have changed since then, I sometimes wish I could look through time ask her questions and see what she saw.

    • saddlerider1 profile image


      9 years ago

      What a beautiful piece of art. You take us on a journey here, the house and all it's memories left behind by many who shared it's features, wood, plaster, moldings, ceilings, walls and so much more. I think of my dear mother and her mother and all other ancestors who lived in a house with stories to tell.

      I felt every word, I closed my eyes and found myself in my room, in our old house with all the trappings and I smiled. Thank you for the journey, yes indeed T.S. would be proud to read this delight. Bravo, I commend your talent.

    • rebekahELLE profile image


      9 years ago from Tampa Bay

      Beautiful. The imagery and what it creates in the mind is lovely and so reflective. How fascinating that you are a genealogist and have penned such a captivating poem taking us into other times.

    • BrightMeadow profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from a room of one's own


      Thank you. Your comment means a lot.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 

      9 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      This is just lovely. The dust motes, the curl of hair, the longings to shelter a family again. I just love it. Thank you for giving me this emotional tug. Mr. Eliot would be proud.


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