From My Home to Yours

By Mercilee Jenkins

The thing about houses

is the way they hold onto us.

Over and over again our mother calls: “Get up.

You’ll be late for school. Don’t make me come in there.”


We brush our teeth in the sink with a little bit of porcelain

worn away by the drain,

then open the closet hoping

new clothes had magically arrived


but we put on the same old ones,

our comings and goings like a well-rehearsed play.

I used to wonder what the house did

when we were all gone.


Even the dog sometimes takes herself for a walk.

Then children come home from school

trailing their day behind them.

Parents come home from work


leaving their coats and kicking off their shoes

in the usual places.

A thousand times we open the refrigerator looking for something,

sit down with our family for a meal,


put the dishes to the sink.

Even on holidays and special occasions

there are ways we do things

food we eat, conversations we repeat.


Stockpiled memories gather in the corners like

dusty old toys and books we sometimes trip over

and it hurts to remember the arguments and doors slamming

and wanting to get away


until we move on and

that place is no longer with us.

It belongs to someone else.

Some other family is busy weaving their lives


like ivy growing between the outer and inner walls.

But it’s hard to imagine that it’s still not us

as we were.

So much living must have worn a groove


in the universe that remains.

Or perhaps some day the layers of living

will come together

and make a new world.

Mercilee Jenkins is an award winning playwright, poet and fiction writer. Her one act play, Winning, is included in Best American Short Plays (2014-2015) and her short story, “The Day Mel Tormé Died” in the anthology, Sisters Born, Sisters Found. She is currently working on a novel titled A Safe Distance from Home.

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