Monday, August 10, 2009

The Old House

The Old House

There’s not much to say about the old house where I spent many happy years of my childhood except that it looks like a crime scene. For reasons too complex to address the house has been destroyed by time, vandals and neglect. Picking through First Editions now white with mold, scattered papers on the floor that could be anything including tax returns, poems or paintings there was little to save.

Dingy fluttering curtains hang limply against windows held together seemingly by cobwebs. Blackened lumps of indefinable objects lie in a kitchen sink, the bathroom toilet a scene fit for a Stephan King novel.

Grotesque renderings of mold and mildew spatter the whole place like Jackson Pollock gone mad. A fireplace built by hand looks like it was bombed. Boxes filled with rotting books once meant for rescue are scattered throughout a living room where nothing lives but mice, spiders and viral monstrosities.

The beds upstairs where children were conceived sag and lean; burnt-out candles and filthy sleeping bags hint that indigent people found life bearable here a while. No one knows when the vandals came or when they will return. Sunlight still filters in through the spider-web clogged windows and falls in wan strips upon the ruined debris. A forgotten pair of mold-splattered white pumps sits on a warped dresser; a cracked door leads to a closet so dark we don’t venture in.

Outside, flowers still bloom in an abandoned garden, a stream still meanders into a bay now mostly filled in with silt. Next to the property a CEO has built a summerhouse fit for royalty. A fence clogged with blackberries and vegetation gone mad separates the properties. A maple split by lightning or disease threatens to fall most likely on the summerhouse. No one knows how this scenario will end.

What is there to say? Whether it is outrage or grief no words can describe the grotesque shape of the ruined piano where my hands first stuttered across a keyboard fit for a Beethoven once upon a time, no words can bring back the courage of those who once lived here in health. A family who long ago survived the first sweep of swine flu at the turn of a century, who produced a family of misfits, alcoholics and artists, who lived on the land when it was still wild, long before rich people arrived and circled a quiet bay where Indian canoes once graced the quiet, pure waters of Hood Canal.

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