Boarding Up The Old House
by Charlotte Renk



Peeling chipped paint from the sill, she leaned
against the window to watch what was not possible.
Dead eyes cannot see
what once-live-yes eyes could.

Pure-pink (yes pure) wave petunias draping;
grape jelly-dollops, dabbed on a plank, glinting
in mid-morning sun to entice cardinals and orioles.
A tube of scarlet sugar-water inviting
hummingbirds who would chase and fight
for the right to all portals,
a greed she never understood.

She had loved the birds, the flowers,
the green beyond blossoms
before browning.
She’d always kept windows open
till mid-June heat. But too much loss
lives in this house now.

The four rooms of her life, uninhabitable
as the rocker that wobbled at the joints
and sank to a bone-hard middle when she sat.
There were places she did not want
to hobble anymore.

The bedroom with its also-sunken
side of an unmade bed;
the kitchen, compost reeking;
the study: books full of turned-down corners
and fuller still of blank spaces after chapters,
after each anticipated, yet unexpected conclusion.

The altar of her private faith shattered
to porcelain shards, grit and dust, clogging
the same ears that deafened from the tornadic
roar-crash-hush after the last news.
The same ears once believed in grace...God’s will.
She couldn’t even count on memory’s mercies.
Her once-sharp mind knew Whitman’s Leaves by heart.
That same mind cannot recall your name,
skipped yesterday’s appointment,
missed the twins’ birthdays. It quit…today!





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