Strange to go back
To the house I’d left
Eight months before.
Empty now, sold
Short, short-sale, mortgage
X had planned to reinvent,
To cleanse with coats of fresh white
Paint on every wall to cover
The cornflower, merlot, sage, plum
We’d put there together.
In the end, she too found it easier
To leave this place that had been
So vibrant with growing things:
37 rose bushes, fuchsia, hydrangea,
Day lilies, Shasta daisies, mock
Orange, azalea, rhododendron,
Still alive, but ragged, unkempt.
An abandoned pile of mulch, left
Unspread in the driveway
Where I used to park. The goldfish
Pond dug up, a dry pit surrounded
By rock and fern. The food garden fallow
With weeds, dead beanstalks hanging on trellises.
The only thing left on the deck
I’d built, a place for meals and nights
Around the firepit, was the glider swing
I’d received for Father’s Day years before,
Paint cracked and peeling from the constant
Winter rain. I loaded it into my truck.
A friend once told me that when she studied
Anatomy in college, the cadavers were stuffed
With dryer sheets between classes
To lessen the smell of formaldehyde
And decay. But now, whenever she does laundry,
All she can think of are corpses.
Here the living have departed, leaving
Only a mid-century ranch, remodeled
Without permits, too near
The railroad tracks, a yard
Full of flowers rotting
On their stems.
James Alan Gill has published fiction, non-fiction, and poetry in several journals including Colorado Review, Crab Orchard Review, Midwestern Gothic, The Common, and Atticus Review, and has work forthcoming in the anthology Being: What Makes A Man.
Photo by Flickr Creative Commons user Jonathan D. Blundell