Old House

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Its windows loom dark,
Bleak and shattered;
Gaping as a witch's grin;
The semblance surely seems
An appropriate fit
With its pervasive gloom;
Stripped of the cornfields
That once graced its skin
The former farm is a husk
Of its former self
In the pale shades of dusk.

Partially-dislodged shutters
Twist feebly at hinges,
Impatient to lie down and rest.
An autumn breeze scatters
A swarm of faded leaves
In confused rustling, scraping
Feebly at thin topsoil;
For a moment a rusting gate
Opens to the fluttering flora
And emits a scream at this intrusion,
Discordant in the cemetery aura.

The structure's hat is battered;
The ravages of wind and water
Have ground the mortar borders;
Thin gray slits of sky
Filter through still-crimson rows,
Virtually the only color in view.
Spreadeagled about it,
The sagging roof is checkerboarded
By flown-away shingles;
Some stand on end,
Awaiting the bend and rent
To whisk them away
In a final descent.

The gutters have surrendered;
Rusted and holed by time
And merging raindrops,
Which now pass through
Their jagged bottoms
Without a friendly, melodic visit;
Clapboards, split and showing stain;
Some split and warped;
No vestiges of paint remain.

Reedy weeds glut the earth
Where a woman's hands
Gently had caressed flowers,
Whose fragrance and beauty
Rewarded the fortunate senses
In countless seasons; now bankrupt
Of their kaleidescopic treasures,
Save those the sad eye
Of memory still measures.

The front porch roof slumps
Toward decayed floor-boards,
Slowly crushing backbones of chairs:
Instruments of closeness and well-being
Once comforting a long list
Of the important people in my life;
Talking, laughing, loving deeply;
Friends and family, a gifted wife.
Remembering, I cannot resist
The thrust of nostalgia's knife.

Hesitating, taking leave,
Deciding to take a chance,
Another pang ensues
In that parting, painful glance:
Seeing it once more
As a young man's home,
Gay; a springboard of vibrancy
Of joyful girls and boys
Cracking the shells of infancy;
Testing, learning
In the quick passages of life.
But it has transmogrified
Through my yearning
Into a scar, roadside.

With that added slash
Across my wounded heart,
I turned anxiously to leave;
But as the gate squealed
Again against the grinding latch,
Truth hit its mark and healed;
A thief had met his match.

For new seeds of gladness
Were sown to supplant and oust
The fleeting dark spirit
Of that memorable house.
Though fleet-footed time had tried
To corrupt, mar and steal,
Those meaningful events
Remain vivid and real;
They are savored, and survive;
And even greater comfort lies
In the current rivers of love
That flood and course always
In the generations of my blood
Fostered in those fond days.