My grandparent's house
ten-kid-large and sinking
on the corners of remembrance
Remodeled now, to
Irish immigrant and Scottish orphan's child
She sang on the ferry
He fell in love
"The rest is the history of us...."
as the Connecticut River, grieving--
in their sunset....
I am afraid of it-- of his learning
of the shiny badge pinned to his coat
of his dying...
Golden leather of it
of another continent
of the once warmth-- of a distant hearth
so darkened now--
where his head once rested
I will not sit in it
as if he will come back, to take his place
I am afraid of him--
with his chair--
all worshipful and empty
like a high place, abandoned
to the heart attack
not for grandchild play
Seat of Authority
beside the standing cold--
Pipe smoke imagines itself
against the ceiling in the words
of Yates and Milton
He read to them
Paradise is Lost....
This house is cold now-- even in the summer-- cold
Worn as only large families wear
of waiting shadows
--four brothers who were spared
Anna Mae, in charge, too young,
worries in abrupt dark
of dinning room
Her face, haunted--
an archway-- ever empty
by the large and ghostly table
covered by its web of lace--
a bridal veil
of Catholic impossibility...
Anna Mae, held hostage by her thoughts
of darling, Sean...
Aunt Lil's “breakdown”
with cigarette and thorazine
quaking quiet in her corner
as blind as smart-*** hell
with threads that thatch
the wounded socks
Holds it all together, scolding--
Brought the welcomed jelly donuts
sneered as Yankees clobbered Boston
all-- while drinking yellow ale
Uncle Eddie-- laughing hoarsely
cracks nuts over a wooden bowl
Both of my grandparents died a year apart in the midst of The Great Depression, leaving four of their kids below the age of twelve. The family struggled through it and WWII that followed.
My Grandfather was a police officer as were a number of his descendants.
The house enfolded them, sending their stories like flares across the generations.