The Silent House

There are certain moments in life, for me at least, when one starts to feel just a bit nostalgic, and that has been true for me in the past few weeks. I’m not entirely certain why. Maybe it’s the rainy weather we’ve been having. Maybe it’s because we’ve been reading Tennyson in my Victorian Literature class. Or maybe it’s because of all the death happening around me: peers, family, friends, friends of friends…

Either way, I’ve been thinking a lot about my childhood recently, and particularly about the set of great grandparents I grew up around.

My great grandparents bought their land and built their house some time during the Great Depression, though I don’t remember exactly when. My great grandfather worked as a foreman at a nearby brickyard, and so brick edifices dot the property around the house, some complete buildings, others not. The property my great grandfather bought back then sits on what is now more of a family estate, having been parcelled out to the various generations.

I was only a little girl, possibly 6 years old, when my great grandparents died, but I still have memories, if slightly romanticized, of them. I remember them as kind and happy people, and I remember the times I spent there in that house and on that property as some of the best.

I don’t go home much these days, but when I do, I like to visit the old house. In some ways it’s very different now; in others, it’s as though no time has passed at all. In any case, my nostalgia recently has inspired me to write a new poem based on my last visit. I hope you enjoy!

*EDIT: My mother sent me an email correcting me on my time frame for when the house was built. As the information she gave me has some very interesting historical tidbits in it, I thought I’d go ahead and share it here with you.

“Just wanted to make one little correction for you in your lead in to the poem. Great-grandpa built the house during WWII. That’s one of the reasons it has some of the issues it has, such as the floor falling apart. You see, everything was rationed during that time because resources had to go to the war effort. To even put windows in the house Great-grandpa befriended a wealthy rancher that had a government contract (I think that’s correct) and when this gentleman was allowed to place an order for glass he would add an extra piece or two to his order for Great-Grandpa. It took a number of years to build the house as he had to get supplies in small amounts at a time and then build the house. As a matter of fact, when they first moved in (in 1945) they didn’t have sheetrock on the walls. They had a heavy paper that had different prints on it. Grandma talks about remembering the flower print that was on the paper in her room.”

————

The Silent House

Hinted chills on whispering winds
Stir the bone-bare trees
As a house sits dark and silent
Amidst the mournful breeze

Echoes of distant laughter
Hang in the empty air
A remnant of moments remembered
And the loved ones who’re no longer there

The grapevine grows long and forgotten
On crumbling walls of brick
While the grey grass waves bleak and haunting
Like a graveyard candlestick

Longing creeps soft and gentle
As I wander the empty rooms
Rememb’ring the ones now sleeping
In silent, time-weary tombs

The scent that I always remembered
Envelops me as I walk in
While the chairs stand quiet, inviting
As they were and always have been

The cane in the cobwebbed corner
The photographs scattered around
The records all lined up in orderly rows
Yet with silence their only sound

The jars of that last summer’s produce
The dust-covered books on the shelf
Sit as if all are just waiting
For time to unravel itself

Mem’ries haunt the dusty halls
Where now my footsteps tread
Lingering like a listless shade
Beside an empty bed

If I listen, I almost hear them
If I watch, I almost can see
The loved ones I knew in times long past
And the way things used to be

But silence is all that remains of them
The voices are all in my mind
Their laughter is all a sweet mem’ry
And emptiness all I will find

Time has its way of changing
The places I used to go
And age has its way of taking
Those I used to know

But good-bye is not forever
Someday again I will see
The ones I remember in the silent house
And ’till then, they live in me.

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2 thoughts on “The Silent House

  1. Oh Tiffany, you have such a way with words! I can see each room as you walk thru, and hear their voices, too. It seems only yesterday that you girls were running in and out and making Great Grandma laugh at your antics. Thank you.

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