this old house I do not know

This old house

An Old House

this 200 year old building that is my home; stands
protecting me from the winds, the rains and inches of snow

not being a builder myself
I wonder how the roof doesn’t leak or the tins blow off
how the floors don’t cave in beneath my feet.
I do not know.

the birds; it’s been their home longer than mine, perhaps.
I am comforted by the birds as they use this house
for whatever it is they are busy doing
I do not know because I can not see them
there are no windows in this area and no way
to look up underneath the overhangs we they go.
I hear them; not only their voices in song and chatter
but their busy bodies scratching and moving about.

the centipedes; I saw two of them
the spiders live here in communities – all sizes and many kinds
I do not mind altogether. Spiders do go their own way.
although I do ruin their webwork as a matter of routine.

The moths; I conquer them easily, only because I fear they will
get in the food and eat holes my clothles. At first, it was a daily episode
of killing the moths I guiltily admit, but I think they are all gone now
I have had bees in here and many flies in the spring of which I am
a confessed serial flykiller. I certainly did not want infestation.

Ants made their appearance one morning about 5 am, suddenly, unexpectedly and army style; completely invading the entire farmhouse style
seated window. I was terribly frightened and made a conviction I would use whatever I could to defeat them as soon as daybreak gave me the light. But later, when I came back, there were only a few lingering marchers. I went outside and found some troops crawling the stone wall all the way to the rain spouting. I let them go. By 9 am, they were gone and I don’t know where.

This old house’s tin roof pours sound in the rain
this old house seems to shine through pain
this old house greets me in the eastern morning sun
this old house I do not know
this old house is wasting the oil heater’s work
the floors and walls are cold regardless
and the cold air does not stay outside
this old house I do not know

this old house was free of mice this winter
though the first winter one stayed all season
a mouse that didn’t bite for cheese or peanut butter
he was a regular invisible visitor
only droppings he left behind were evidence of his stay
though I tried relentlessly
he was smarter than my trap
his departure time I do not know
he left without a goodbye

this old house I do not know
we call the summer kitchen
as the old Pa german folks used it
to cook in the summertime for grammas;
a smoke house at butcher time
for many grampas;

as for me, a child, it was a storage place
for bikes and lawn chairs,
a mostly unused smoke house and
cool earth berm place with wood stove for steaming clams,
picnic makings, a refrigerator filled with a keg and soda
and freezer for hot dogs
many years ago

this house I do not know
served folks for over 200 years
perhaps it was an original small home
as they built the larger farmhouse in 1802
clearly dated,
just a few steps away

my brother’s 1990’s work
moved this from storage
to his own bachelor pad
and then home for a girlfriend
yet too small for their dreams
he left just in time for my entrance

this house I do not know
holds the memory
of an art teacher
whose hand painted dish
sits on a stand on the
deep windowsill; one of
a few retained items.

The land deeded on goatskin to a
man named Grim who bought
it from William Penn’s brother
and was passed down generations to a
daughter for a dollar
whose passing in the 70’s
also included the death
of this place’s family farm tradition.

The daughter spoke of a legend
that the stone used was
carried from an older building
across the field
where an older woman
once lived and baked
bread for the native americans
that passed through the area.

the stone walls
still delay the warmth
of spring, the heat of summer
and the coolness of fall
but holds the winter cold
much more firmly than the summer heat.

The local county history book
lists this land as owned by
one of the first settlers in the area
but only a small portion of the original
tract that spread for miles north of here.

This building is noted as once
used for a schoolhouse
to teach the Pa German’s the new language, English.
An English teacher would travel
before cars could help
for a week’s stay
sleeping on the 2nd floor
then leaving for the weekends
for a long 30 mile journey home.

this house I do not know
is unlike it’s neighbors
which will never match
it’s endurance
or hold the mysteries
of centuries

this house I do not know
reminds me that I
have only a temporary
stay of which ownership
is an illusion
but it’s future
that will outlive mine
is strong and for years
to come, this house
will be
an old house;
one will not know.


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