Domestic Apocalypse

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons user Jonathan D. Blundell

Strange to go back

To the house I’d left

Eight months before.

Empty now, sold

Short, short-sale, mortgage

Underwater, upsidedown.

 

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

Domestic Apocalypse

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