Late Autumn Visit to an Old New England Home

The quaint New England village

in mid-October.

Antique shops, country stores.

White-steepled churches

set against the backdrop

of fall’s spectacular display

of crimson and gold foliage.

And the old New England home.

Her porch adorned with cornstalks and pumpkins.

Her flowerbeds full of yellow and rust-colored mums.

Arrogantly she stands.

She knows her admirers.

How they delight in her unassuming

beauty.

So simple.

Tasteful.

Smart.

She leaves her admirers to wonder

whether she is listed in the registry

of historic homes.

No one

not even she

acknowledges that her charms will fade

with the dropping of the leaves.

*

Be patient.

Wait a bit.

Four weeks perhaps.

Then visit again.

This time

go on in.

Meet her.

Push open the door that doesn’t quite want to give.

She’s not easy, you know.

Hear the creak of the plank floor as you step inside.

Smell the mothballs

and the scent of doorknobs

touched too many times

by so many hands

that the odor

that’s permeated their surfaces

can never be removed.

Smell the faint aroma

of dried out pot roasts

from dinners that stole away days.

Feel the lifeless still

of 4:00

on a Sunday afternoon

in November.

Sit in the chair by the window

and see the world

from that filmy view.

The gray sky.

The skeleton trees.

Now, turn your gaze back inside

and watch the dust

dance

in the late autumn sun

that streaks tauntingly through the glass.

And watch

as a single particle

settles itself atop one of the many knickknacks

that sits lazily

upon the mantel.

Hear the clock.

Each tick

reminding you

of how very long

a day can be.

In the sickening stillness

feel the unbearable loneliness.

Catch your breath.

Breathe in deeply.

Push the air past

the knot

in your throat.

As you sit, feel the house.

The weight

of her past.

So close, really.

What’s 200 years?

Certainly not enough time

for the departed

to resign themselves

to their fate.

The House Next Door

The hill

Four houses

Forest behind

Fields ahead

A dead end

The horizon

A prison

That place

Autumn

Dead leaves

Bare trees

My mother

Speaking in tongues

The flames of hell

The flame of the spirit

Secrets and stories

Legends of the dead

Bones in the woods

Sounds in the night

An insomniac child

Wide awake

Midnight rapping on the door

Something crashing to the floor

The dog atop the stairs

Snarling

The house next door

Looming

Once inside

A cavernous red room

A feeling of doom

Something wrong

Innocence knows

A dry fountain in back

Some toads

Chirping of crickets

Honking of geese

The noisy silence of death

The song to which demons dance

Peaking in windows

Smashing down gates

The song of that place

On the hill

Where the Warden’s house stood.

*

Just the other night

I visited that house

In my dream

The red room

The living room

The basement door

I saw it all

All that dwelled there then

All that dwells there now

In my dreams

Of that house

On that hill

In that place

Where dead leaves fall

in the eerie silence

of a haunted past

OCD

Lead paint is on my windows.

Asbestos is in my walls.

I fear this house will kill me.

My home is my enemy.

*

Asbestos is in my walls.

Are there toxic particles in the air?

My home is my enemy.

I do not think that I am safe here.

*

There are toxic particles in the air.

Are those paint chips on the floor?

I know that I am not safe here.

There is lead dust everywhere.

*

There are paint chips on the floor.

Is everything contaminated?

There is lead dust everywhere.

I must wipe it all away.

*

Everything is contaminated.

Lead paint is falling from my windows.

I can’t wipe it all away.

I know this house will kill me.

Aftermath

You built your city upon a whim.

And long your city stood.

And long your obedient subjects served their capricious queen

with bent knees and bowed heads

and humble hearts.

Until

one day

you tore your city down

revealing the truth:

monuments

thought built of stone

were made of feathers.

Your temple

all those long years

balanced upon nothing more

than dust.

Now

after sifting through the rubble of your kingdom

of our past

we see

that which was always there…

nothing.

Now

in this barren space

we must decide what to do.

So, tell me,

what are we to do

in the aftermath

of you?