Thursday, April 2, 2015

The House That Built Me

My grandparents' cottage
on Christleton Avenue, 1950

The house that made me
had an elephant
in the living room
we were not allowed to talk about.
Nights started out a party,
excited voices, as Dad went to the "Cash N Carry"
and brought home the amber liquid 
that tasted so bitter
when I dipped a curious finger in.
But soon, screams and bumps and crashes,
desperate physical fighting, 
me quaking in bed,
afraid one of them would be killed
and I'd be left with the wrong one
in the morning.

That is the house that built me.
But it was another house 
- the little house in the photograph -
so serene you could hear 
the ticking of the metal clock 
on the kitchen windowsill -
that saved me.


My grandparents, late 1940's

for Mama Zen's prompt at Real Toads: the house that built you

21 comments:

  1. and I'd be left with the wrong one
    in the morning... oh, that is too awful...poor little girl that still lives in you.






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  2. I love how the placid outside didn't betray the chaos inside. Like David Lynch's "Blue Velvet." Well done.

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  3. afraid one of them would be killed
    and I'd be left with the wrong one
    in the morning...

    Parental conflict is the worst terror a child can be exposed to. This poem takes us to places we don't really want to go to, with a straightforwardness that can't be denied.

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  4. "and I'd be left with the wrong one
    in the morning."

    That jerked my heart right out of my chest, Sherry.

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  5. This breaks my heart, Sherry...you captured so well some of the sentiments that were the very reason that I didn't write of the building but instead fled to the woods. Thank you for voicing this...you were precious then and you still are.

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  6. Hard to know you had to live through that, my friend. Yet, I believe those contrasting households had more than a little to do with the woman you have become.

    Elizabeth

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  7. O, Sherry. We had them also, the screams, bumps, etc. That is all so hard on the children.
    Often they do take sides, generally the poor little tykes align with the right one. I could tell that you did.
    Thank goodness for Grandparents., a safe haven.
    ..

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  8. I like the personal share Sherry ~ These lines moved me:

    But soon, screams and bumps and crashes,
    desperate physical fighting,
    me quaking in bed,
    afraid one of them would be killed
    and I'd be left with the wrong one
    in the morning.

    I love the contrast of the haven in the end ~ Grace

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  9. Very moving, sherry, thanks. K.

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  10. Yes, this snapped me wide eye awake. This one haunts and I am so thankful you had the quiet grandparents-who saved you, kept you safe and made sure you knew you were special and loved~ I am so sad, Sherry you had to endure this~ (((hugs)))

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  11. I'm so glad you were saved. xx

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  12. Wow, it's wonderful to have had good grandparents. I was raised by mine because parents were so young. Glad you had your grandparents,and I be they were glad to have you too.

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  13. My parents fought, but never struck one another. Every Christmas there would be the annual fight with my dad saying we would all have to go our separate ways. I always wondered where that would be for me. Thank goodness you found your place of salvation.

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  14. I wish I had known my grandparents better ~

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  15. Lovely, how the old pic can transport one through years and miles

    Thanks for dropping in to read mine

    Much love...

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  16. "me quaking in bed,
    afraid one of them would be killed
    and I'd be left with the wrong one
    in the morning."

    The lines above raised every single hair on my body. Your poem shows the shouting parents, the shaking girl... and fear provoked by her understanding of something she shouldn't even know about. So very sad...

    ...and then saved by the miracle of a grandma. I've always said it, Grandmas are magical. Mine was. She (her house, her woods, her one-eyed grin) saved, too.

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  17. Thank goodness for your grandparents, Sherry. So sad really, as the kind of damage that your parents inflicted on you lives on in a person throughout their lives, I think... but yes, thankful for your grandparents' love and their net of safety.

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  18. This is a very moving poem, Sherry, with a lot of powerful lines. I am glad you had a house that saved you, not only one that scared and scarred you.

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  19. SO been there--all I remember from a certain age is the screaming and fighting, and my lovely grandparents, who saved me. Vivid and real, Sherry.

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I so appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.
Thank you so much. I will be over to see you soon!