This old house is made of wood and paint and memories, but
Lately, the sense that our time here will end has hovered on my shoulder,
A faint melancholy of knowing that one day I will walk out one last time,
Hand the keys to someone who won’t know any of it.
That spot in the dining room wall where a teenage
Tantrum left a divot in the plaster from a chair tossed in anger.
Where the same child discovered the internet, found a girl
In California and talked up a huge long-distance phone bill.
Where B&B guests gathered from around the world
To chat at the table over Bismarks and sausages and coffee on
Their brief swing through this old house, and our lives.
Where twice we buried old dogs who were family,
Who stayed close when we were sick, who protected the boys,
Who were always ready to go, go, go, into the woods,
Anywhere, as long as they were with us,
Until they could not go any more.
Where five times we lay awake, staring at the ceiling filled with dread,
While death passed close enough to feel the foul wind from its wings,
Where we discovered what we were made of, finally.
Where the clatter and tumult of children filled us with their growing up
Practicing the tuba,
Taking karate lessons, staying out later than we wanted,
Falling in and out of love, suffering through high school and college,
Facing serious things, then more, and learning how to survive and thrive.
This old house may be just wood and paint and memories, but
We’re also merely the most recent caretakers, and our time will end.
It held us close, demanded our devotion, shared its secrets, kept some hidden,
Let us walk the rocky, unpaved path to the future, and still kept us
Grounded in the paint and the wood and the past
Of others who came before.
Others who, when their time came, reluctantly handed the keys
To us, letting go, realizing we would never know it all,
But trusting this old house would take us in
For our all-too-brief time to live in the mysteries of
Wood, and paint.