“so I wait for you like a lonely house
till you will see me again and live in me.
Till then my windows ache“
Sonnet LXV ~ Pablo Neruda.
Once occupied, a house transforms quite cheerfully
to home, personified in perpetuity.
Deserted then, it wails and calls through all
the doors and walls. And with West winds
the saddest dialogue reverbs
through empty space.
At one such place, a three-legged dog
vanished in thick undergrowth.
We picnicked at a paint-flaked table
in that late spell of heat. Drowsily, the garden
let slip petal and leaf; yellow roses past their best
still kept the arch of bygone trellises.
And in the midst, a house, half- tumbledown.
Unassuming, unadorned, growing out of limestone
like a great grey tree. And trees there were too;
Poplar, pine and two scrub apples; a washing line
between, half-pegged and rock-a-bying
in the breeze. From the letter box
some scraps of baby clothes. We knocked.
No one came of course but I've returned
in dreams, as though we parted there
when swallows flew these shores
that mid-September. Inside, a length of corridors.
Shut doors; some locked, some open to the touch
some I rattle like a desperate spectre.
Pursued, pursuant, calling: "Grandmother", "Grandmother"
and on a gate-leg table, one egg with buttered toast.
Close by some knitting, pale and mauve,
a scattering of humbugs. The grate is cold
and up from the rag hearth-rug
her little dog whimpers and limps from sight.
Despite these frequent nighttime flights
I rarely catch you in my den of memories.
Am subsisting now in a solitary scene
the way a new house cracks with settlement.
Attendant on footfalls, watchful at the casement.
Not aching, but waiting.
For my Poetics prompt, we conjure a house that we’ve never personally known and give it substance, literal and/or metaphorical: Outside Looking In