Saturday, September 25, 2021

Old Houses speak in Hollow Whispers




Old houses speak
in hollow whispers.
This one has its own
story to tell.

The roof sagging into itself,
front steps rotted
and all askew like crooked teeth,
the door creaks slowly open.
Dust motes dance and whirl
in the afternoon sun.
There is the scent of mothballs,
and ancient cats.

The stairs groan, remembering
laughing boys and girls
pounding up and down,
sliding down the bannister.
On the walls are smudges and handprints,
cracked peeling wallpaper,
pale green, with big pink cabbage roses.
Tattered and dusty mesh curtains
hang limp and grey at filmy windows.
In the hallway,
up one side of the doorjamb,
back by the kitchen,
are penciled names:
William, Henry, Emily, Rose.

Upstairs, the small rooms
are filled with old iron bedsteads,
and remembered echoes
of whispered nighttime conversations
from a century ago,
when all the world
was young.

Two elderly sisters lived here
from the time they were small.
They were young women in this house,
dressed in sprigged cotton,
sitting on the porch
on cool summer evenings.
The brothers came in to dinner
sweating, silent, sunburnt
from the haying.
Suitors, in time, arrived on horseback
to pay their calls,
the young people sitting,
stiff and uncomfortable,
in the parlour,
teacups and saucers clinking
in their nervous hands.

How the sisters
whispered and giggled
with each other, later, upstairs
those soft summer evenings
before sleep,
dreaming their innocent dreams.

But life had other plans.
Their father died, and then their mother.
The brothers married off.
The two sisters stayed on,
in the house where they were grown,
and somehow, in the daily routines
and passing of the quiet hours,
the life they had dreamed of
passed them by.
They lived out their days
together
in this shabby, down-turning house.

Every evening, through all the years,
the two sisters walked,
slowly, with their canes,
along this country road.
Last time we passed,
only one aged sister was left,
standing, staring,
at the end of the footpath,
watching her days
slowly wind themselves down,
one by one.

Tonight, 
no sister standing at the gate,
the house stands empty,
as it has not been since 1915.

How those echoes must whisper
like disappointed ghosts
through all
the dusty, barren rooms.


A story for the Sunday Muse. There is such a house with two elderly sisters,  out the end of Beaver Creek, in Port, where I lived before. Empty now of all but memories.

18 comments:

  1. In living colour ... I see every scene you word-painted. This is a poem that a wise wild woman with life experience composed.

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  2. Oh my, what a wonderful story (and true as well). Methinks it would make a great novel. So well told, Sherry!

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  3. What an engaging piece of writing! You are a born storyteller, Sherry.

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  4. Oh this is absolutely wonderful Sherry! The memories and the way life changes, the sounds of life and the house are all spectacular. You put us in that house seeing the transformation from full to empty. I love it!!

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  5. The house misses those sisters!

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  6. I like your story, Sherry. I am sure it would ring true for quite a few. I am glad they had as happy youth, likely there were advances they did not capitalize on, "better would come."
    ..

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sherry, for commenting in your comment about the similarities with our growing up experience, even the frost on the blankets. I don't think we knew we were poor.
      ..

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  7. that was a great story sherry, really enjoyed the read

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  8. The image really resonated for you, Sherry!

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  9. Set in mood form verse to verse.
    Nice one.

    much❤love

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  10. Love this gentle story - how the lives of house and sisters mirror each other.

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  11. So many echoes in this. The ending left me blinking. Lovely.

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  12. You bring this house and the people in it to life, Sherry; the joy and melancholy and inevitable process of change are the very fabric of this dwelling, and contrary to the old saying, you have made these walls talk.

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  13. Sherry, it feels like you are sharing the life stories of a place and people very dear to you. There is care and there is love for them. The last stanza is such a poignant ending.

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  14. You tell this story so well. It is captivating. Such lovely writing Sherry.

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  15. I love this rich, imaginative tale that you have woven from the image, Sherry! The idea of:
    'a century ago,
    when all the world
    was young.'
    is intriguing to me, because back then perhaps we still had a chance to take better care of the world.

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  16. Some favorites:
    "There is the scent of mothballs,
    and ancient cats."

    "The two sisters stayed on,
    in the house where they were grown,
    and somehow, in the daily routines
    and passing of the quiet hours,
    the life they had dreamed of
    passed them by.
    They lived out their days
    together
    in this shabby, down-turning house."

    "How those echoes must whisper
    like disappointed ghosts
    through all
    the dusty, barren rooms."

    I can see this turning into a book.
    Excellent story, Sherry!

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  17. Wow, that is an amazing story, Sherry. I could see it as a short story really....so many wonderful details.

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