Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What She Used to Be

Photo by Tess Kincaid for Magpie Tale #78

I suppose we’re too old to start over;
all that ripping and tearing - repairing -
jacking up walls to replace rotting sills,
painting and papering, staining old boards.
But I see her there still, just as she was
in the fall, before the widower died.

Simple white cape in a swathe of green fields,
stunning surround of flaming swamp maples.
Old fashioned garage for a new Model T;
red paint with white trim – a bit out of place.
I thought if I ever did own the house,
I’d move that garage, or I’d tear it down.

When the widower died, more changes came.
The house grew appendages all around
and tall solar panels up on the roof.
A porch on stilt legs leaned over one side,
hiding the old walk-out cellar stone wall.
A large plate glass window stares at the road.

The owner retired and moved away;
now the house is for sale - calling to me.
She knows that I live here, just down the road
and remembers we once lived side by side-
that the river flowed past me, on to her.
She knows that I love what she used to be.

It wouldn’t make sense to buy the house now;
to take down additions that spoiled her looks,
pay to remove them - start over again.
He says it would kill us, but I still dream…
I see her there waiting, just as she was,
in the fall, before the widower died.

Posted for
Tess Kincaid's


  1. It is sad to see great houses either fall to ruin or become ruined by poor visionaries.

    Very touching write.

  2. Good word choices, pacing, line breaks = solid write that's emotionally affecting.

  3. aww...agree with EG...i have a house i watch now knowing we will never afford it but it is ideal and i hope to never see it fall...

  4. Makeovers can end up being un peu de trop... Good Magpie.:)

  5. Full of nostalgia for times past - lovely.

  6. There is a home, a large beautiful home, sitting in the little town I grew up in. I would buy it if I could and turn it into a bed and breakfast! Your poem jump-started that dream.

  7. Certain homes possess a timeless charm, although temporary dwellings they are... touching and nostalgic, Ann, enjoyed it.

  8. Beautifully constructed poem, Ann.

  9. Incredibly touching poem, with
    Sandburg sweep, drenched in
    nostalgia, but still saying volumes
    about the narrator. I like the line:
    /simple white cape in a swatch
    of green fields/.

  10. Pick of the week, I think, this Magpie. Good work - because you read it, then you REALLY read it. First rate.

  11. Makeovers can be emotionally tough sometimes...
    wise use of words and very beautifully weaved into a poem...:)

  12. "I suppose we’re too old to start over;"
    Mmmm... Tess says it's never too late, but there must come a time to stop and just be.
    However, there is joy in fixing up old things... and people. Maybe old houses are people too.