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.