Eulogy For A House
The house, although empty, is not yet dead. One room remains alive, stubborn against the onslaught of time and slow starvation. For many decades, all corners of this house, every eave and gable, vibrated with the force of lives lived, loves lost, prodigals forgiven. It comforted my mother's labour and listened for my first cries.
My grandfather, no longer able to ascend the back stairs, died in the room made up for him off the summer kitchen.
The attic windows once allowed the sunbeams in to dance with me while I practised pirouettes. The then-strong front porch railing could be leaned against when exchanging clandestine kisses with the boy from the farm down the road.
My father came home from the war and clung to that front porch for long moments.
Inside, the business of life. Coal to buy, jam to jar, tomatoes to can. The steam of a century of woman's work rose steadily from the stoves and pots and laundry tubs of time. Until the changes came.
Slowly, wrinkles spread across its noble face, creeping, creaking, arthritic, encroaching. The years claimed first a chink, then a beam. Rafters and sills succumbed. Its mighty shoulders ached, then sagged. One by one its eyes grew dim and darkened, two by two the cracks and crevices widened, three by three its people abandoned it until, gone in body, all their years of laughter and tears coalesced and remain forever in the one room still standing, defying gravity and death's finality.
29 June 2015