Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Memories of a House

I drove slowly
past my grandparents' old home
going up the street,
down the back alley,

I missed it on my first pass,
the new closed-in front porch
masked its face.

I wondered how the current residents
would get to know their neighbors
without a front porch
on which to rock
in a summer breeze,
greeting the others
enjoying the evening.

There was no way
to run my fingers over
the now hidden English ha-penny
pressed into the concrete step.
It was a working class man's dated cornerstone
meant to mark a new post-war life
along the row of squat brick houses
built to shelter the families
the men fought to protect.

And how will the cat play with the mailman,
batting through the slot in the door
at the teasing letters
now that there's a box instead?

Since they made
so many other changes
maybe they finished the basement.
It was always dry.
It would make a good rec-room
where kids can play.
That would help erase
the one great sadness
the house witnessed.

If nothing else,
I hope
there is some ice cream
in the freezer
for a late night treat.

I drove home
allowing memories
and thoughts
roll along with the scenery.
I laughed
when I wondered
what color to paint my hallway...
the one a stranger's Uncle Sonny signed
under the wallpaper I stripped.


Hilary said...

I love this. If only we could know the memories held im the homes we select. I've left a bit of a story underneath the newest (pretty old now) carpeting in my dining room... much like that Uncle Sunny.

Beuatifully told.

Jocelyn said...

Oh, the last two lines are best of all--what we find when the wallpaper is stripped! Indeed.

S said...


S said...
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Beach Bum said...

I have the very same thoughts when I drive past the house my grandparent's once owned.

Bijoux said...

I have driven past the house I grew up in a couple of times (my parents sold it in 1990) and I feel the same way!

I actually live in my dentist's old home (there were a few owners in between), so it's cool to hear his stories and memories about it from the 1970's.

Craig said...

Thanks for this. . .

For the past few years, since my parents sold the house they'd lived in for 35 years (but I only barely did), it has been very poignant to drive down their street when we go to visit my brother and his family, who live just a few blocks away. And all the moreso with my dad's passing last summer. . .

I hope the new owners can have some appreciation of all the living we put into that house. . .

Just Me said...

In my prior house, the children of the former (and only) owners lived next door. It was fun to hear their stories and to show them the changes we made to "their" house. :)

Suldog said...

This is truly wonderful. It made me happy and melancholy at the same time. The only other thing I can think to add is that I love you :-)

silly rabbit said...

I had a chance to tour the house that I grew up in, one afternoon, many years after I'd moved away. All I could feel as I walked through it was sad about what was no longer there and a creepy sense of peeking into someone's secret life. There was a total absence of "home".

Kat said...

Love how well you expressed your memories being wrapped up in that house just as someone else's memories are wrapped up in yours.

Craver Vii said...

Nicely written. It got me to share this daydream with you, and left me with a craving for ice cream. French vanilla, s'il vous plaƮt.

VE said...

Very nice. We leave a dime or penny hidden in the bark of a tree where we camp. I've found ones when I was kid still there. Now if only I'd left like $100 or something both memorable AND practical...

Secret Agent Woman said...

I wonder what the next owners of this house will think of the peace signs I scratched into the driveways I had put in?

And I'm curious about the sadness in the basement.

Dave said...

Yes, old homes which bring back memories for us are great. I am fortunate that the two homes I grew up in as a child and teenager are still standing and serving someone else's famiies now. I like to drive past occasionally just for the memories - Dave

~Tim said...

Love this, especially the end of it.

My parents have been in the same house for over 50 years. Still, there have been additions and renovations so it's not exactly the house I grew up in.