174 W. Third

1896

 

Pride beams from my freshly painted porch

a spotless home for The Perry Family,

for Hiram and Mary to grow their affection

into a family- they will fill my three grand bedrooms

paled only by the master, with marble fireplace to match

the two hearths downstairs. Hidden discretely

a second world for those hired

to live, sleep within me as nannies and cooks,

those who will learn my second staircase,

the vast kitchen, and my underbelly where lies

my heart to heat three floors through the coldest months.

 

1935

 

A daughter married, a son has died, depression hits my family

moves away. Forty years has worn my paint,

sunk smooth grooves into my steps. I am abandoned,

pipes freeze, windows break. No human inhabitants

to shelter between my still strong and sturdy walls,

a purposeless structure, I await The Perry’s return,

the family that built me I hope to house once more.

But as my basement fills with ice as the winter’s frost

slowly sneaks in, I long for anyone to walk

these bare wood floors again.

 

1972

 

I was revived and immediately divided, a house

now fit for two. Half of me devoted to families who

rent the first floor, with towering ceilings I am granted

lofty state to watch over the leased. My upper floor

an office bearing the proud letters D.M.D. and my

master bedroom, now filled with the crack of

nervous patients knuckles and an air of romance that

floats between doctor and secretary. The rains steady

fall on an October night made my gutters sob

as the doctor brings his wife after hours, ends the vows

tied to his ring finger – with curved dental scalpel, he is

surprised by the quickness of a cut to the neck

after years of carefully planned slices to gums.

1998

 

I am always filled with these girls- young women

no older than Mrs.Perry when the newlyweds moved in,

but they are different. Wearing letters I cannot read,

strange behaviors that even through a hundred years

I had never seen. When the week closed and days grew dark

how I would fill with people, speakers in every room,

knobs turned high, pulse with deep bass. My stairs

a stumble hazard, my walls secure to stabilize.

Morning’s rays reveal the rubble left behind

of plastic cups, sticky floors, and little hope

that any of the girls will clean.

 

2015

 

Every year a new set comes, eight people

under my roof. Like the girls, they are young,

and though they may get mud on my floors,

or fill my sink with dishes, they always wake

to clean me anew. I used to wish for

the Perry’s return, to have those who once

built me reside here again. After the years,

however, I’ve found I’m happiest

when midnight strikes and all those who

live at 174 West Third are tucked in

safe in the warmth of my walls.

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